The Hofstra field hockey team kicks off its 2016 season on Friday, Aug. 36, when the Pride travels upstate to visit the University of Albany in the season opener. Hofstra is coming off a 14-6 campaign last year that culminated in a trip to the CAA Tournament, where the Pride was ousted by the eventual CAA champs from the University of Delaware.
8/26 @ University of Albany: Hofstra field hockey is no stranger to difficult opponents throughout their non-conference slate, and their opener isn’t an exception. Albany is among the best field hockey programs in the nation: they made the NCAA quarterfinals last year, finished at 19-3, and lost just one time on home turf. The Pride, though, put up a heck of a battle last season, falling to Albany 1-0. The Great Danes went on to only lose once in non-conference play, and that came to the team that placed runners-up in the NCAA Tournament, UNC.
8/28 @ Colgate: Things even out a bit on opening weekend when Hofstra faces a struggling Colgate program. Their shortcomings standout in their win total from 2015: zero. They were the lone winless program last season, and Hofstra handed them one of their 15 losses, which was a 7-1 blowout. A similar result is to be expected this time around.
9/2 vs. University of Maine: Hofstra bounces back to the America East for their home opener against another strong program, one that lost to aforementioned Albany in their conference’s title game. Maine clocked in at 19-4, 17th in RPI and return their top three point-scorers (Danielle Aviani, Sydney Veljacic, Libby Ridel) for 2016. Hofstra also suffered a one-score loss to Maine in 2015, showing again that despite facing such strong opponents, they can hang tough.
9/4 vs. Syracuse: No way to spin this one: it’s a tall task to beat the defending national champions. Their lone loss in 2015 came to the team they would eventually beat in the National Championship game. But Cuse will have to insert new talent into their starting roles. They lose ACC Offensive Player of the Year Alma Fenne (19G, 9A), program point leader Emma Russell (15G, 7A) and starting goalkeeper Jess Jecko, who allowed just 22 goals in 2015. Nonetheless, the program’s worst record this decade was 18-6 in 2014. They are a powerhouse and are still tough to top.
9/9 vs. Sacred Heart (in New Haven, CT): The back-and-forth in opponent difficulty continues when Hofstra meets the Pioneers on neutral turf. SHU clocked in at 76th (of 78) in RPI in 2015 (one spot above winless Colgate), winning just two times. The Pride destroyed them last year in a 9-1 affair where Colby Hussong and Claudia Marin Samper combined for five goals. Expect little trouble for Hofstra against a team that was only able to score 16 times last year.
9/11 @ Yale: Many of Hofstra’s out-of-conference foes are teams that they met last season, which gives the team and fans a good idea of how they stack up against the 2016 slate. The Pride topped Yale in the latter stretch of an eight-game winning streak, allowing just one goal. Yale has struggled over the past few seasons, going 3-14 in back-to-back campaigns, putting them in last in the Ivy both times. Yale’s hope for a win stems largely from their goalie Emilie Katz, who was their team’s long representative on the All-Ivy 1st Team.
9/17 vs. Rider: A mainstay on the Pride schedule returns for their 9th consecutive season, one that has proven to be even more interesting in past seasons. Hofstra mid Colby Hussong’s mother AND father are the head and assistant coaches for Rider, respectively. In the first three years of this family rivalry, Colby’s side has held the advantage at 2-1, but she will look to score her first goal against her parents in her final chance this time around. The Broncs, as a whole, pulled to a 12-7 mark last year in the MAAC.
9/19 vs. Lafayette College: Hofstra switches their typical Patriot League opponent from Boston U (which has won the conference’s last three titles) to Lafayette College in 2016. Hofstra will meet a familiar face on the sidelines in Sarah Dalrymple, who took an assistant role with the Leopards after serving in the same title with Hofstra in 2014 and 2015. Lafayette was average in many ways last season; with a 9-10 record, a 43rd spot in RPI and just one player scoring more than six goals. On a below average note, they struggled to a 2-6 mark on the road.
9/23 @ UMass Lowell: Moving back to familiar opponents, UMass Lowell fell to Hofstra by one goal in 2015. If that sounds like a common theme, you’d be correct, after Hofstra played in eight matches decided by one goal last year. Though Hofstra may have wished for an easier win against a 5-14 squad, UMass Lowell has yet to top Hofstra in three consecutive years of meeting.
9/25 vs. Saint Francis (at Rutgers University): Though the A-10 is not known as a particularly scary field hockey conference, Hofstra faces SFU for the first time ever at a good time. After a decade of futility, the Red Flash, behind head coach Stacey Bean, has turned in four straight seasons of .500 or better play, including a 10-7 mark in 2015. The team prided on defense last year, allowing just 23 total goals, good for 10th in GAA in the nation.
9/30 vs. Fairfield: The last three matchups between these two have been settled by one goal each, with the Pride coming out on top in the last two. Fairfield comes in boasting the MAAC title in 2015, but that only placed them at 53rd in RPI nationally. Their stats don’t jump off the page either: they had a -4 scoring margin for the year. Their hope leans on MAAC Offensive Player of the Year Ann Burgoyne, who scored 19 goals last season, 13 more than anyone else on the Stags.
10/2 @ Quinnipiac: The 2015 MAAC regular season champion Bobcats went 5-1 in-conference, but 4-10 out of it. Now they jump to the Big East, where the competition is much more stiff with teams like UConn and Old Dominion to be faced. It could be a rough transition for a team that already loses their two best scorers, but in out-of-conference play, anything can happen. On paper, Hofstra has the upper hand.
10/7 @ Towson: Hofstra opens up CAA play against a Tigers team that struggled mightily in 2015. They went winless in the Colonial, won just two times overall and was destroyed by Hofstra 9-0. The team wasn’t helped by a very young roster made up of just six juniors or seniors, but this program has struggled to the point they haven’t won more than two games since 2011.
10/9 @ Delaware: Just as the non-conference schedule shifts from mighty teams to weaker ones, the CAA slate does the same, as Hofstra gets one day in-between playing last place Towson and three-time defending CAA champ Delaware. UD reached as high as a no. 12 ranking nationally, downed four ranked teams (including JMU in the CAA title game) and return four of their five players who scored 10+ goals. The Pride is 2-4 in their last six meetings vs. Delaware, including a loss last season.
10/14 vs. Northeastern: The Huskies faltered to a 2-4 mark in CAA play and 5-13 last season, but pulled off a surprising win over Hofstra, 3-0. But their record seemed to have reflected the team as lesser than they actually were, thanks to a schedule that featured eight ranked opponents which led to eight losing results to them. Headlined by All-CAA first team member Natalie Stewart, the Huskies will hope for more offensive production overall in 2016, since it took just 18 points from Stewart to lead her team in that category.
10/21 @ Drexel: The Dragons started their 2015 campaign winning just one of their first seven games. But they tossed a rough start out the window to go 4-2 in CAA play and earn a berth in the CAA Tournament. They fell to the Pride in overtime last season, and if they want to top them this time around, an improved offense is key. The Dragons scored more than three goals just three total times, and were shutout on six occasions.
10/23 @ Saint Joseph’s: Before the home stretch of CAA play, Hofstra gets a break for a tune-up against the Hawks. A middle-of-the-road team by many standards, Saint Joe’s went 9-9 last year and scored just one more goal than they surrendered. But, to their credit, they did go 3-0 against CAA opponents in 2015. Hofstra will have to stop A-10 Offensive Player of the Year Anna Willocks, who earned the award thanks to 16 goals and four assists in her freshman season.
10/28 vs. James Madison: The Dukes seemed to be on their way to a CAA title last season following a 6-0 conference campaign, where they outscored their opponents 26-6, and swept all four CAA player awards. But instead, they fell to Delaware for the second consecutive season, and must face a new year without CAA Player of the Year Taylor West (16G) and CAA Defensive Player of the Year Loes Stijntjes (10G, 7A). But the talent doesn’t run short, with CAA Rookie of the Year Melissa Wilken (9G, 10A) coming back for more along side First Team goalie Sara Kraeutler. Even without two cornerstone players, this teams remains a force in 2016.
10/30 vs. William & Mary: On what could be a crucial final day of the regular season, Hofstra gets an advantage of playing on home turf and versus a Tribe squad that won just once in CAA play in 2015, as well as just a single time on the road. Hofstra only topped them by one in 2015, but just as Hofstra lost some offensive weapons, W&M lost their biggest in Pippin Saunders, who scored 13 times. Their defense, though, kept them competitive, with a 2.55 GAA that fell just behind Delaware for 3rd in the CAA.