Following Hofstra soccer through Covid downs and ups

A photo essay by Alexis Friedman

Storm Strongin, center, joined his teammates in a celebratory hug after he and Francesco Perinelli (No. 22) assisted in a Hofstra goal, which gave the Pride a two-goal lead over Elon in the Colonial Athletic Association Championship game in November. // Photo by Alexis Friedman/Long Island Advocate

From the moment the coronavirus pandemic broke in March 2020, it has interrupted nearly every facet of life, but most don’t realize the full effect it has had on collegiate sports. For most college athletes, Covid-19 drastically reduced their seasons and cut their overall playing time last year.

The NCAA granted student-athletes an extension of eligibility, allowing them to stay for an extra year to complete their seasons that were interrupted by the pandemic. The decision allowed “students to come back for another year, even if they were planning to graduate in 2021,” or non-senior athletes an opportunity to extend their college careers.

A corner kick by Strongin preceded the goal by teammate Matthew Vowinkel that was invalidated by an offsides call by the referee during Hofstra’s scoreless match against the University of North Carolina at Wilmington on Nov. 6. // Photo by Alexis Friedman/Long Island Advocate

Richard Nuttall, Hofstra’s head men’s soccer coach, kept five fifth-year players this past season, while still bringing on many new first-year players. Storm Strongin graduated from Hofstra with a bachelor’s degree in economics last December, after having played on the men’s soccer team for four years, but stayed for one last season while pursuing his master’s degree.

“Covid made it possible,” Strongin said. “I didn’t really think about even doing a master’s maybe for years, or if ever, but it totally gave me the opportunity for that and for an extra season. As soon as we got the opportunity to, I wanted to stay, of course.”

Of the five years that Strongin was with Hofstra men’s soccer, he started in 60 of 78 games played. Here, he took a free kick against James Madison University on Oct 28. // Photo by Alexis Friedman/Long Island Advocate

Strongin and his fellow fifth-year players made the most of their extended time playing for Hofstra men’s soccer by taking the team to new heights with their best program record season, winning the Colonial Athletic Association Championship title, making it to the third round of NCAA tournament play and scoring the most goals in a single men’s DI NCAA tournament game, only the third team do so since 1978.

My interest in capturing sports photographs began with the men’s soccer team here at Hofstra during the pandemic. My growing passion for sports photography prompted me to follow the team to Pennsylvania for its second-round NCAA tournament game against Penn State University. Strongin’s story stood out to me in particular because of how he took advantage of his opportunity not only to continue playing for Hofstra, but to earn an advanced degree during his extra year.

Strongin began his Hofstra soccer career with a game at Pennsylvania State back in 2017. In 2021, he closed out the season during the second-to-last NCAA tournament game played, with his number on the scoreboard. Hofstra beat Penn State 8–2 on Nov. 21, pushing the squad to the third round of NCAA tournament play. The team scored the most goals in a single game in the men’s DI NCAA tournament since 2008. // Photo by Alexis Friedman/Long Island Advocate

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