By Tom Verde, Staff Writer
The Hofstra University women's lacrosse team continued its bounce back since dropping the season opener, picking up itssecond straight win, this time a 13-9 victory over Denver University.
Denver Pioneers senior midfielder Tulley Stapp got the scoring started just 1:13 into the contest, finishing off a cut with a great feed from sophomore attacker Kara Secora.
The Pride shot back on a free position goal from sophomore midfielder Jill Maier, which would be a sign of things to come.
The teams continued to trade goals as the half went on. Denver's freshman midfielder Mikayla Clark answered back with a free position goal, before Hofstra's sophomore attacker Claire Brady fired back with two goals in a row to give the Pride its first lead of the game at 3-2 with 17:48 left to go in the first half.
Denver then went on a two goal run of its own, as junior midfielder Melissa Maier set up junior attacker Becca Steinberg and then fed Secora at the back door for two goals in a 1:15 span to put Denver back up 4-3. Hofstra really struggled with cutting players on defense in the season opening loss to Boston College and it seemed Denver built their offensive game plan around a similar system.
Senior attacker Stephanie Rice tied the game back up for Hofstra, before Denver sophomore midfielder Alex Befus made it 5-4 Pioneers with 10:46 to play in the first
Hofstra's freshman attacker Lindsay McKinnon tied it at five before Denver went on another two-goal run to make it 7-5, with goals coming from junior attacker Lauren Ciccomascolo and Maier.
Rice brought the Pride back to within one on a free position shot with three seconds to play to send it into the break at 7-6 in favor of Denver.
The Pioneers had a slight edge in shots 17-16, but Pride junior goalie Jackie Pandolf made six of her ten saves in the first half to keep things tight.
"Jackie was playing great," said Hofstra head coach Abby Morgan. "I think if we asked her she'd probably say she could have had more saves, just because that's her attitude."
Rice's late first half goal appeared to shift the momentum in Hofstra's favor, as the Pride came roaring out of the gate, scoring the first six goals of the second half to go up 12-7.
Jill Maier notched her second of the game on a free position shot to tie the game at seven just 1:08 into the second. Junior midfielder Maryann Miller followed suit, scoring on a free position shot just 45 seconds later to put the Pride back up 8-7.
Maier would go on to score the next four goals for Hofstra to give them the biggest lead of the game at five. After splitting two defenders and firing past Denver junior goalie Ashley Harman, Maier scored off a great feed from freshman midfielder Alex Mezzanote to set a new career high.
Maier would then net goals five and six, both on free-position shots to make it 12-7 with 19:58 to go in the game.
When asked about her flying start to the second half, Maier gave credit to her teammates. "We just clicked on offense more," said Maier. "When our offense clicks, I get into the flow too, so it was just a combination of those things."
"It's great to see her finally play the way we all know she can play," said Morgan. "We see it in practice and we see the potential that she does have. Those are things she can do every game because she does them consistently in practice."
Denver tried to get a late comeback going, as goals from Melissa Maier and freshman attacker Meredith Harris brought the Pioneers back to 12-9 with 14:57 to play
Hofstra's defense held strong and Rice would add the last goal of the game, her hat trick goal, to make it 13-9. Rice's goal put the Pride at 7-11 on free position shots on the day, something Morgan was happy with.
"We haven't been focusing a lot on the free position 8-meter shots in practice, but I think Jackie [Pandolf] does a great job testing our players," said Morgan. "They get tested, and then come game day, itmakes it a lot easier.
Hofstra's defense did a great job altering its game plan to stop Denver's offense."I think in the second half we really made adjustments defensively. We shut them down on those cuts, and only giving up two goals in the second half, that doesn't happen that often," said Morgan
Katie Hertsch led the defense with seven ground balls and four caused turnovers. "She's got great instincts, I think that's the biggest part of her game," said Morgan. "She knows where the ball's going to go, she can read the play, and that leads to huge interceptions, ground balls, huge plays for our team."
With the win Hofstra improves to 2-1 on the season. The Pride will next be in action on Saturday March 5, when it heads up to the state capital to take on the Great Danes of Albany at noon.