Hofstra women’s lacrosse uses fall season to bolster team chemistry

The Hofstra women’s lacrosse team has been hard at work both on and off the field during the fall season, as in addition to intense practices and 18 games head coach Abby Morgan has had her players heavily concentrate on developing solid team chemistry heading into 2010.

With nine freshmen on Coach Morgan’s roster, team building activities such as matching up each freshman with an older “sister” and having each player create a shoe box to include writings on their life and lacrosse goals, have been heavily emphasized during fall ball. “Getting the players to learn more about each other is something that we have really tried to stress,” said Morgan. “For the fall it’s really about getting everyone comfortable with each other.”

Hofstra’s 2010 team will feature six seniors who reached the NCAA Tournament as freshmen in 2007 and just missed out on the Colonial Athletic Association playoffs the last two seasons. The Pride have had to hold most of their fall practices without three of these key seniors including Corrine Gandolfi, Bryana Borrelli and Jenn Olson, who along with junior Bettina Mianulli are student-teaching this semester. As a sign of the team’s determination to succeed, the foursome have been waking up at 5 a.m. for lifting before heading out to teach and many teammates have joined them for their extra-early-morning weight training.

Coach Morgan has tried to organize practice schedules around the student-teaching conflicts but she added that the missed time of these vocal leaders has led to some positives for the other players. “It has kind of opened the door to our quieter players to step up and be leaders,” she said.

Hofstra loses defensive leaders Alysse Ruszkowski and Lauren Whitcomb but returns several offensive weapons including Gandolfi, who led the Pride in scoring with 45 goals and 25 assists, Liz Falco (29 goals) Stephanie Rice (23 goals) and Ashley Jones (19 goals). The fall season has featured diverse offensive production including 15 different scorers in Hofstra’s four games during the Nick Colleluori Women's Lacrosse Classic on Sept. 26. “Our issue won’t be the weapons that we have but how do we have utilize them as a team,” said Morgan.

Another asset that Morgan anticipates for 2010 is depth, and as a result no starting job is safe. One of the many hotly contested position battles taking place during fall ball is in goal between senior Mary Cuddihy and sophomore Jackie Pandolf. Cuddihy got the majority of playing time in 2009 but Morgan has had both goalies split game action this fall. “They continue to push each other,” said Morgan. “They will have to prove themselves.”

Hofstra’s fall season has mostly been injury-free but sophomore midfielder Maryann Miller went down with an ACL tear and after having surgery her status for 2010 will not be known for a couple months.

Hofstra will wrap up its fall season with games the next two weekends at tournaments in Northern Virginia and Baltimore against George Mason, Villanova, George Washington, St. Francis (PA), Johns Hopkins, Lehigh and Drexel. The Pride open its 2010 regular season on Feb. 20 with three straight home games against St. Mary’s (CA), Notre Dame and Albany.

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