Hofstra women's lacrosse eager for start of 2010 season this Saturday

     After barely missing out on the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) playoffs the last two years, the Hofstra women's lacrosse team is ramped up to hit the Shuart Stadium turf for its opener against St. Mary's College (Calif.) this Saturday. The motivation to make certain that 2010 does not end without post-season play will be especially on the minds of eight Pride seniors who got a taste of being in the NCAA Tournament as freshman in 2007.
    "It is interesting to think about the seniors of that 07 squad, their freshman year they didn't make the CAA Tournament, their sophomore and junior year they were in the championship game and lost," said fourth-year Hofstra women's lacrosse head coach Abby Morgan of how this years seniors much like the ones three years ago had experienced back-to-back years of major disappointment heading into the end of their college women's lacrosse careers.  "The third time hopefully is the charm for us to do what we're supposed to do in the CAA conference."
    Two returning veterans earned preseason All-CAA honors including senior midfielder Corrine Gandolfi and junior defender Katie Hertsch. Gandolfi is coming off a third-team All-America junior season that saw her score 45 goals and 25 assists while Hertsch recorded 36 ground balls and 30 draw controls.
   One Pride senior that was not apart of that 2007 conference title is Marist transfer Liz Falco, who Morgan is expecting big things from this season after having a year under her belt to adjust to playing in the competitive CAA. "The dodges that she has on the field are like nobody else on our team," said Morgan of Falco, who scored 29 goals last year. "She is just a fantastic athlete."   
    In preseason practices and scrimmages against Brown and Dartmouth last Saturday Morgan has tried to have her players feel more comfortable with a new aggressive defensive style that places more emphasis on causing turnovers. "We're getting our defense to anticipate a lot more," said Morgan.
    Much like last season the issue of who will start in goal is a question mark heading into the season with senior Mary Cuddihy and sophomore Jackie Pandolf battling it out. Cuddihy received the brunt of the playing time last year but Pandolf started behind the cage in last weekend's scrimmage against Dartmouth. "It is a good competitive atmosphere between the two of them," said Morgan.
    Saturday's  opener against St. Mary's will launch an 16-game schedule that features seven teams ranked in Lacrosse Magazine's pre-season top 20 including a road tilt with third-ranked Pennsylvania on March 10. Hofstra will be tested early with this grueling schedule when it hosts ninth-ranked Notre Dame on Tuesday afternoon Feb. 23.
    Hofstra was picked to finish fourth in the CAA Pre-Season Coaches Poll but with how close the standings were the last two years when the Pride missed out on a playoff berth by a game, Morgan isn't placing too much stock in the prognostications. "In our conference the rankings don't mean anything," she said. "There is so much parity and we beat up on each other."

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