By Joe Pantorno, Assistant Sports Editor
It was the younger members of the Pride that helped navigate the Hofstra women's lacrosse team to a 9-8 victory over Drexel on senior day last Thursday to close out its season.
"That's the type of team we have right now," said head coach Abby Morgan of her team, which half of its goals were scored by freshman against the Dragons. "It bodes very well for the program."
It was a closely contested game for the entire 60 minutes, with freshman midfield Alex Mezzanotte establishing this theme by quickly equalizing after Drexel's star attack Charlotte Wood opened the scoring with just over three minutes gone in the first half.
Wood, who would go on to score four goals, bringing her season total up to 44, gave the Dragons a 2-1 lead, only to have Mezzanotte respond yet again just 1:52 later.
"Well it [our defensive game plan] was to contain her [Wood] one on one," said Morgan. "We did an awful job at that, she was able to go goal hard and she's a quick player.
After goals from freshman attack Jenn Ward and freshman midfield Liz Anders put the Pride up 4-3, Drexel rattled off two goals to end the half, one from Wood with 13 seconds left, to give the Dragons a one-goal advantage going into the first intermission.
A third straight goal from senior midfield Amanda Gregg extended Drexel's lead to 6-4 with three and a half minutes gone in the second half.
Sophomore attack Lauren Chandler was able to cut Hofstra's deficit back to one, but Wood's fourth and a free position goal from freshman midfield Amanda Norcini made it 8-5 with 15:26 left in the game.
Hofstra's offense needed a spark and was finally able to find one thanks to the superb work on the draw controls by sophomore midfield Jill Maier, who went 17-2 from the center circle.
"Jill did a great job. She was putting the ball where she wanted to put it," said Morgan. "I think we were guessing correctly."
With multiple opportunities to establish an attack, the Pride began to click. Just 45 seconds after Norcini's goal, Ward grabbed her second and senior attack Stephanie Rice found the back of the net four minutes later to get back within one at 8-7.
Rice's goal was the first Hofstra goal of the day scored by an upperclassman.
The Pride's offensive pressure did not let up, as continuous victories on the draw control gave Hofstra almost uninterrupted possession.
With 8:48 left, Maier put another mark on her already solid day by scoring her 37th goal of the season to tie the game at eight with the helper coming from Mezzanotte. The freshman's second assist of the day gave her four points for the game, a career high.
"She played great," said Morgan. "She has great vision, she shoots hard, she does a lot in transition, she's always in the open pockets."
A foul on Rice with 5:23 left gave the senior a free position chance to give Hofstra the lead. The Skaneateles, NY native cut to the net and beat senior goalie Whitney Johnson for her 23rd goal of the year to give Hofstra the 9-8 lead.
It was up to Maier to win another draw, which she did, allowing Hofstra to run the clock out for its sixth win of the season.
The Pride finishes the season at 6-10 overall and 2-5 in CAA play, making this the third of five years that Morgan has failed to guide Hofstra to the conference playoffs.
"We would have loved to see a couple more wins on the board this year but the future is bright for our program," said Morgan.