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Hofstra women headed to NCAA Tournament after capturing CAA title for 12th straight win

Hofstra celebrates its  victory over Northeastern in the

Hofstra celebrates its  victory over Northeastern in the CAA women's soccer championship at Hofstra on  Nov. 5, 2017. Credit: Jeff Bachner

Perhaps now the Hofstra women’s soccer team will receive some much-deserved recognition from the NCAA.

The Pride has been perfect, one of the hottest teams in Division I, dispatching every opponent and challenge during an 11-game winning streak. No. 12 occurred Sunday with Hofstra’s 2-1 home victory over Northeastern in the Colonial Athletic Association final to clinch an automatic berth in the Division I tournament.

The Pride (15-3-2) ran the CAA table, going 9-0 in the regular season, 2-0 in the playoffs.

Yet the team is not ranked in the top 25. Still, Hofstra could be in line to host a first-round game next week. The Pride will discover its opponents on the NCAA.com Selection Show at 4 p.m. Monday.

“We definitely deserve to have a home game,” said forward Jenn Buoncore, who scored the winner at 31:02. “We definitely made a statement to the whole conference and the whole NCAA. From the start of CAA’s we were all business. Everyone was just eyeing the prize.”

Freshman Lucy Porter, who tallied the first goal, agreed.

“We can do great things and now we have just proven it,” she said. “We’ve proven everyone wrong who has doubted us, especially in this game.”

Porter made her statement 84 seconds after kickoff. Kristin Desmond, named the tournament’s outstanding player, sent a throw-in into the box. Bella Richards tapped it to Porter, who powered a 10-yard shot past goalkeeper Nathalie Nidetch.

“We were under lot of pressure,” Hofstra coach Simon Riddiough said. “Not many teams hosting the CAA win. Sometimes we don’t understand how good we are as well. The first goal allowed us to breathe a little bit and settle into the game.”

After Kerri Zerfoss’s header off Valent Soares Gache’s long free kick equalized for Northeastern (13-6-3) at 15:13, Hofstra connected for the winner off a free kick of its own at 31:02. With her back to the net, Buoncore headed in Monique Iannella’s set piece from three yards.

“I turned and saw the ball in the net,” Buoncore said. “It was an amazing feeling. I was ecstatic.”

The Pride held off Northeastern in the second half. While it might not have always resembled the beautiful game, Riddiough didn’t complain.

“We made it ugly at times and that’s how we’ve done it all year,” he said. “We’re ugly and effective and I’ll take that over pretty and not effective.”

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