Parsons Field in Brookline, Mass. was a house of horrors for the Hofstra women’s soccer team during this past Saturday’s 4-0 Halloween matinee defeat to Northeastern, but if the Pride want to reach the NCAA College Cup then two wins on this same turf will be needed this weekend.
Northeastern’s Halloween shutout of Hofstra (10-5-3, 7-2-2) clinched the number one seed for the Huskies and the right to host the Colonial Athletic Association playoffs this weekend. If the Pride had won or tied then the Hofstra University Soccer Stadium would have been the site of this weekend’s CAA playoffs, but instead head coach Simon Riddiough’s team will have to settle for being the second-seed and traveling four hours back to the Boston area. “We had everything in our control and we just let it get away from ourselves,” said Coach Riddiough. “It was just one of those days.”
Despite coming off a four-goal loss in its regular season finale, Coach Riddiough feels positive about his team heading into this weekend since Hofstra out-shot Northeastern 22-8 and was the victim of some unlucky breaks against a stiff first half wind. Hofstra returns to Northeastern’s Parsons Field this Friday afternoon to battle UNC-Wilmington in the CAA semi-finals at 3 p.m. with a victory catapulting the Pride into the CAA Championship Sunday with a chance to earn an automatic bid into the NCAA College Cup, an accomplishment the program achieved in 2005 and 2007.
After a disappointing Halloween bus ride back to Long Island Riddiough gave the team Sunday off but then his players quickly turned their focus to the CAAs with a one-hour workout on Monday. Reaching the NCAA College Cup has been a major goal of this team, especially after narrowly missing it last year following an overtime loss to Northeastern in the CAA title game. Riddiough feels Hofstra has the best talent in the CAA but bringing the necessary intensity to each game is what will make the difference in whether the Pride’s season continues beyond this weekend.
“We know we can compete and beat anybody in the conference,” said Riddiough. “We just have to make sure we match each team physically.”
With Hofstra being 61 in the NCAA’s ratings percentage index released this week, winning the CAA is likely the Pride’s only path into the College Cup. If Hofstra had been able to hold onto a late two-goal lead against then 25th ranked Indiana on Sept. 11, then an at-large NCAA spot would have been very much a possibility, but the Pride can make that loss moot with two wins this weekend. A win over UNC-Wilmington, who the Pride defeated 2-1 on Oct. 16, would move Hofstra into the CAA title game on Sunday against the winner of Northeastern/James Madison starting at 1 p.m.
“You can only look forward and thankfully we still have destiny in our own hands,” said Riddiough