Courtesy Hofstra Athletic Communications
The 2010 NCAA Tournament bracket is plastered on the Pride’a locker room as a reminder of the team’s ultimate goal. Circled on the paper are all the tournament teams Hofstra lost close games to including (Penn, Notre Dame, Stanford and Towson). Hofstra finished 2010 12-6 with a 10-6 loss to James Madison in the Colonial Athletic Association title game and head coach Abby Morgan believes a win in any of the Pride’ many heart-breaking losses to ranked teams could have made the difference in her team reaching the NCAA Tournament as an at-large selection.
“They don’t forget it,” said Morgan, whose team returns four starters and is ranked 20th to open the season “We talk about it giving us fuel.”
Hofstra will have plenty of opportunities register signature wins against quality teams starting with this Wednesday’s opener against 19th ranked Boston College. In all Hofstra has 10 games scheduled against teams either ranked or receiving votes in the preseason top 20 poll including home contests versus Notre Dame, Penn, James Madison and Towson.
Providing leadership for Hofstra in emphasizing the importance of every game and practice are senior captains Kate Hertsch (defender), Stephanie Rice (attacker), Jennalee Trombley (midfielder) and Bettina Mianulli (defender). Hertsch, who is a member of the U.S Women’s National Team, is especially expected to anchor a 2011 Hofstra squad filled with plenty of youth as the first team All-CAA selection is the Pride’s leading returner in ground balls (34), draw controls (31) and caused turnovers (18). Morgan is also hopeful that Rice will provide some offensive sparks in her final collegiate season after scoring 23 goals last year.
A freshman who had a major breakout season last year was Jill Maier, who tallied 22 goals along with 18 draw controls and 13 ground balls. Sophomore attacker Jacquely Ardolino also showed plenty of offensive punch as a freshman scoring 15 goals and Morgan is expecting continued progression from her this season.
Morgan expects the return of red-shirt sophomore midfielder Maryann Miller, who missed all of last year with an injury after scoring 12 goals as a freshman, to bring an extra offensive lift to the Pride. Sophomore defender Emily Corzel, who tore her ACL in the CAA semifinal win over Towson last year and sat out the entire fall season, is back healthy and expected to be a major component of the Pride defense.
Last year saw a rotation in net with neither senior goalie Mary Cuddihy or sophomore Jaclyn Pandolf able to supplant the starting spot. However after some solid offseason work Morgan is confident in Pandolf’s ability to hold down the starting goalie spot as a junior and be a key facet of the Pride’s defense.
“[Pandolf] has really solidified her game,” said Morgan. “She has become a vocal leader in the goalie cage.”
Two freshman that have been stepping up large and are expected to be contributors this season are midfielder Alex Mezzanotte and attacker Lindsay McKinnon.
Despite being loaded with talent Morgan emphasized that no starting positions are safe and every player needs to continue to work hard in order to assure being on the field. “Even our returning U.S player Kate Hertsch better bring it or she’s not out there,” said Morgan. “It is a matter of who is going to earn it in practice.”