Hofstra women use last season’s disappointment as motivation

Hofstra women use last season’s disappointment as motivation

The story didn’t end well for the Hofstra women’s soccer team.

The Pride weren’t proud after a 1-0 loss to Elon in the CAA semifinals in April after they had claimed the tournament crown and automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament for three years running.

They got caught looking ahead.

“We were thinking too much about, ‘All right, CAAs, that’s over with. Let’s start thinking about hosting first, second and third round,’ ” said Krista Agostinello, their senior right back from West Babylon. “I think we obviously hit a speed bump … We just wanted redemption from that.”

They have taken the first step, making the four-team CAA Tournament, at Elon in North Carolina.

Hofstra is 13-3-1 and 5-2-1 in CAA play, second behind North Carolina-Wilmington. After Sunday’s regular-season finale vs. visiting Charleston, the Pride play in the semis Nov. 4. The final is Nov. 7. Sixty-four teams will make the NCAAs via the automatic or at-large routes.

Miri Taylor wants the Pride to take it one tournament at a time this time.

“I feel like when we play semis and finals, we just want to win the CAA, to be honest,” the senior striker said. “We just want to get that ring back because we feel like we were a better team against Elon and we really [did] ourselves an injustice.”

Hofstra has outscored opponents 39-9, and was 24th in the Oct. 24 RPI rankings.

“I think it’s the senior leadership,” coach Simon Riddiough said. “We’ve got a really mature group who are guiding and leading the rest of the team to success.”

Riddiough, a native of England who played for Hofstra, has 14 internationals. He thinks that has helped.

“One, they’re really talented players,” Riddiough said. “And the second point is the maturity level.”

This is Riddiough’s 16th season. His run includes five CAA Tournament titles and seven NCAA bids, with five trips to the second round. A 2-1 double-OT win Oct. 10 at UNCW was his 200th.

Taylor, who’s also from England, scored both goals. She owns a career-best 14 — three off the D-I lead through Thursday’s play — and eight assists for 36 points, four shy of teammate Lucy Porter’s single-season program record. Taylor has the program’s career assists record with 28.

“I’ve really upped my goal tally this year, and I think that’s credit to the crosses, credit to just everyone around me,” Taylor said. “I [also] just worked hard over the summer.”

At the other end, Skylar Kuzmich has nine shutouts. That was also one off the national lead. The defenders have contributed to 10 clean sheets overall.

So will the right mindset lead to a CAA title in this out-for-redemption season?

“I think we realize that we messed up,” Riddiough said, “and we’ve got that mentality to push forward and hopefully get to the NCAAs again.”

Agostinello knows what that’s like.

“It’s amazing,” she said. “Oh my gosh.”

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