The Elon University women’s soccer team dropped its inaugural Colonial Athletic Association match to Hofstra University 4-1 on Friday, Sept. 26 at Rudd Field.
Four unanswered goals from the Pride canceled out Alissa Pantuosco’s ninth-minute goal for Elon.
“I was absolutely delighted with some of the performances I saw from the team tonight,” Elon head coach Chris Neal said. “We created a number of solid chances to score.”
The Phoenix came out on the front foot in the first half, pressuring the ball on defense and stringing passes together in attack. Junior midfielder Sam Burch gave Elon its first shot in the eighth minute. The Chapel Hill native found herself unmarked at the back post, but her headed effort went over the cross bar.
Sophomore defender Sarah Henson then almost scored a dream goal directly off a corner kick, but her delivery was punched out by Hofstra sophomore goalkeeper Friederike Mehring.
Elon finally got its breakthrough in the ninth minute. Freshman forward Grace Bennett’s shot was deflected away by Mehring, but Pantuosco was there to tap in the rebound for Elon’s first goal in CAA play.
“I saw the ball coming out and knew I had to follow up,” Pantuosco said. “I was just at the right place at the right time.”
The Pride seemed to click into gear after going down a goal. Elon freshman forward Sydney Schilling almost put the Phoenix two goals ahead, but Hofstra went right back down the field to score the equalizer.
Senior forward Amber Stobbs fed Sam Scolarici, the CAA’s leader in goals scored, on the right side of the box and drilled a shot into the side netting past Elon junior goalkeeper Sydney Branson at the 17:58 mark.
“When Hofstra found its rhythm when we were down a goal, we hit the panic button immediately,” Neal said.
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Hofstra didn’t take long to get its second goal. Junior forward and CAA preseason Player of the Year Leah Galton received a pass from junior defender Mallory Ullrich on the left wing. Galton took one touch and bursted into space and slotted the ball home to give Hofstra the lead.
“We just didn’t manage that initial wave of pressure from Hofstra,” Neal said.
Scolarici then got her second to give the Pride a two goal cushion. The senior out-muscled an Elon defender, turned a scored off a shot from the top of the box.
“They all combined very well with each other. It looked like they had all played together up top forever,” Elon junior defender Kara DeGuisto said. “I think we were a little bit shocked at how well they played, how well they kept the ball, how well they moved.”
Elon started the second half much like it started the first, by putting Hofstra under pressure. Sophomore defender Rachel Hallman’s free-kick curled just wide of the far post in the 52nd minute.
“We came out in the second half having forgot about their last few goals and just kept working as hard as we could,” Pantuosco said.
Hofstra put the game out of hand in the 77th minute. Senior forward Lulu Echeverry got on the end of a long ball and sublimely chipped the ball over the oncoming senior goalkeeper Kate Murphy and into the back of the net.
Elon nearly grabbed its second goal in the 83rd minute. Murphy came off her line and delivered a long clearance that was met by senior Raychel Diver who turned and went on a long run down the right wing. Diver’s low cross came to freshman forward Katherine Wray, but she was unable to get her footing straight to keep the shot on target.
Elon will host Northeastern University at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 28.
“[Northeastern is] very athletic,” Neal said. “They play a 4-4-2 and have a freshman up top who plays for the U-18 national team and provides a lot of pace and skill.”
That freshman is Kayla Capuzzo. The Merrick, N.Y. native has yet to score this season, but is second in the team in shots with 27.