With its collective eyes set on winning the Colonial Athletic Association conference title and to again secure a bid to the NCAA tournament, Hofstra University’s women’s soccer team is embarking on another season that includes matchups against familiar foes and national powers.
Taking part in the Penn State Invitational at University Park in Pennsylvania August 19 and August 21 Hofstra defeated the University of Buffalo 1-0, and was then defeated by defending national champions Penn State 3-1. While the match ended in favor of the Nittany Lions, the Pride held an early 1-0 off a goal from Noriana Radwan.
In gearing up for the season, head coach Simon Riddiough said his message to his team is the same message as in past years; “We expect to win and expect to get to the NCAAs.”
To achieve those goals, Riddiough said building and maintaining a high level of fitness will be key.
“We play a high pressure defensive style that requires our players to have a high level of fitness in order to compete at that speed,” he said. “We stress the message of maintaining a good work ethic, and staying aggressive and focused for 90 minutes.”
Riddiough feels the team’s defensive line could be its strong point this season as Hofstra returns key members of its back line, which he said provides his squad with a strong foundation.
All-CAA defenders Madeline Anderson (Westbury, W.T. Clarke H.S.) and Emily Agudelo (Long Beach, Long Beach H.S.) will rejoin junior Rhian Cleverly on the backline after playing most of last season together as a unit. Junior Kelly Gerdes (Wantagh, MacArthur H.S.) is the fourth member of the back four and will appear for Hofstra for the first time after missing her freshman and sophomore campaigns due to injury.
Agudelo, now a senior, will be challenged to bring maturity to the backline. In addition to her quickness and athleticism on defense, Riddiough noted that Agudelo is also an offensive threat, getting forward and providing service to the forwards. She finished the 2015 season with two goals and two assists.
In addition to the aforementioned key members of his defense, the head coach is also looking to other key players including Jill Mulholland (Levittown, MacArthur H.S.), a First Team All-CAA selection; and Kristin Desmond (East Northport, Northport H.S.) to lead the team’s offensive efforts. Riddiough believes Desmond will build on her past successes this season, continuing to increase her points production and developing her confidence as a leader of the offense.
“(Kristin) is someone we are fortunate to have on our team,” he said. “She is entering her junior year and we’re hoping she will have a big year and score a lot of goals.”
Among the newcomers to watch for Hofstra this season will be Brenda Quinn (Hicksville, Hicksville H.S.), Jaimie Layfield and Maya Watkins. Riddiough said Quinn needs to continue working to stay healthy, Layfield has “impressed” during preseason and billed Watkins as a “strong, fast and athletic player.”
When looking at the season schedule, Riddiough said that Hofstra faces several key matchups. In addition to facing Penn State, the team will meet local rivals Fordham, Columbia and Fairleigh Dickinson. The CAA portion of the schedule includes long standing rivals including James Madison, Delaware and William & Mary.