By John Napolitano — STAFF WRITER
Preparation is paramount. As former Indy 500 champion Bobby Unser once said, “Success is where preparation and opportunity meet.” For the Hofstra field hockey team, preparation for a tough schedule of in-conference play could result in the opportunity to return to the top-four and the CAA tournament.
With a 6-7 overall record and an even 1-1 in-conference record, the 2017 campaign has proven to be a stalemate between advancement and adversity for the Hofstra Pride.
“To get 11 new guys in there, and they’re gelling with the returners, that’s taken us some time, but I think right now we’re as prepared as we need to be,” said Hofstra head coach Kathy De Angelis.
That gelling process certainly did not take long for freshmen Philine de Wolf and Frankie O’Brien. Through 13 games, the fearsome first-years have combined for 26 points and the first- and third-most minutes on the field. Ever the aggressor, de Wolf has converted six goals this season. O’Brien has four goals of her own while bolstering the backfield with her impressive defensive presence.
An exemplary executioner to whom freshmen like de Wolf and O’Brien can look up is Madison Sauve.
“She’s really been very prolific around the net, but she also is such a team player, and she has set up a lot of opportunities for other players around her,” De Angelis said.
With nine goals and four assists, Sauve leads the Pride in nearly every offensive category. She has tallied 22 points through 13 games, which is unsurprising for the Pride’s shot-on-goal percentage leader (.727). With six games still to go this season, the junior forward has already surpassed her combined freshman and sophomore point total of 21.
“She’s really having a great year, and her execution in the circle as far as scoring goes has been just wonderful,” De Angelis said.
With a 6-3 record at Hofstra Field Hockey Stadium, the Pride is certainly comfortable on its home turf, but 2017 has proven to be rocky on the road. In four road game decisions, Hofstra has not secured a single win and has been outscored 13-1. Most recently, the Pride let up five unanswered goals in its first CAA matchup against the Tribe of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.
“I think, particularly with a young team, the confidence is always going to ally when you’re home in New York. We have to continue to challenge ourselves to be able to play on the road, and you can only do that through experience,” De Angelis said.
With 13 home games on the 19-game slate, it has been difficult for the Pride to adjust to competition on the road, but this adjustment is fundamental to the immediate success of this team.
“We’ve got to keep developing and keep using each game as an opportunity to get better. We’re trying not to focus on the wins or losses, and we’re really just trying to focus on preparing for a game and playing 70 minutes. I think if we do that, we can put ourselves in contention for the top four,” De Angelis said.
Since joining the CAA in 2002, Hofstra has had seven top-four finishes. Most recently, Hofstra finished as the third seed in 2015 with a 4-2 in-conference record, only to lose to the defending champion Delaware Fightin’ Blue Hens 8-1 in the semi-finals. If the Hofstra Pride aims to return to the CAA tournament, it will find success at the intersection of opportunity and preparation.