By Anders Jorstad — STAFF WRITER
The Hofstra Pride women’s soccer team’s success in the last couple of seasons has largely been built around the squad’s defensive ability. Since the beginning of the 2016 soccer season the team has recorded seven shutouts.
Often times the praise for such accomplishments goes unnoticed. But defender Madeline Anderson has been a key ingredient to the team since she arrived on campus.
As a freshman, Anderson seldom left the field. Even from the get-go she was commonly playing all 90 minutes in a contest.
“It was intimidating to play every minute as a freshman,” Anderson said. “Our first game was at Penn State; it was their home opener. It was Welcome Week so the stands were packed and there were thousands of people. I got to the field and I was so nervous. I’d never played in front of a crowd that big. It was hard at first but I kind of got into it and then it wasn’t as hard as it seemed.”
Even today, Anderson gets nervous before games. You wouldn’t know it if you watched her, though. The cool-headed junior defender doesn’t show fear during big situations.
“I’m pretty relentless,” Anderson said. “I’m not afraid to go in for a tackle or attack the ball.”
The junior defender quickly became one of head coach Simon Riddiough’s most-relied upon players in one-on-one situations. He wasn’t afraid to put Anderson in tough spots as a freshman – and despite her nerves – she thrived. At the end of the 2015 campaign she was awarded with an All-CAA Rookie Team selection and was also placed on the All-CAA Second Team. She was the highest-placing Hofstra defender that season.
But Anderson doesn’t give herself all the credit for her success. She works together with the rest of the defenders and the Pride’s strong goalie corps to continue to shut out teams.
“There’s actually a lot of communication,” Anderson said of the on-field relationship between her and the other members of the team’s defense. “Even if we don’t say it, you’re always using your hands and showing where to go. We talk about it a little before games. During the games, we know what we’re supposed to do since we’ve been playing together so long, we kind of already know how to work together.”
Hofstra features a veteran defensive unit in which its players are all familiar with one another. Anderson is actually the youngest member of a squad that includes Kelly Gerdes, Katie Gerdes and Monique Iannella, a first-year transfer student.
Anderson does plenty of work on offense for Hofstra even though she’s a defender. The Westbury, New York, native was fourth on the team in scores last season. Anderson played forward as recently as her senior year in high school, and that experience has helped her become an offensive force, primarily during corner kicks.
Anderson’s versatile skillset is recognized all around the Colonial Athletic Association. Prior to the 2017 campaign, Anderson was the only member of the Pride to appear on the All-CAA preseason list. She’s one of just three defenders in the conference who received the honor.
Hofstra will have to lean on its defense a little more than usual this season. The Pride lost Jill Mulholland to graduation last year, a midfielder who scored nearly half of the team’s goals last season.
The Pride has shut out their past two opponents thanks in large part to Anderson’s efforts. The team will next take the field at Stony Brook on Thursday in the yearly rivalry match.
For Anderson, the goal is clear: win the CAA. But beyond that, she has a more defensive-oriented dream.
“We’ve got to get as many shutouts as we can.