By Joe Pantorno, Sports Editor
For the seventh time in 11 seasons, the Hofstra women's lacrosse team is in the final four of the Colonial Athletic Association looking for its second CAA title in six years.
The Pride clinched its pass to tournament after its 9-8 win over Old Dominion on Friday.
Towson defeated James Madison to solidify the number one seed and the honor of hosting the tournament while JMU will play Hofstra in the first round of the tournament on Friday afternoon.
"It was great that we got in on Friday," said head coach Abby Morgan. "It relieved the pressure for us a little bit, but there's still a sense of urgency."
Hofstra, who did not experience a successful out-of-conference slate, went 1-7 to start the season. The Pride picked up its play in its conference schedule, going 4-3 to finish the season at 5-10.
Going into the tournament, Hofstra will need to have these aspects of its game ready to go if it wants to make a run at the CAA crown.
Offensively, all eyes will be on Hofstra's two midfield scoring machines. Sophomore Jenn Ward leads the team with 23 goals while Jill Maier, who has cooled off significantly the second half of the season, has 20 goals. With an offense in which the attackers generate offense from behind the net, the cutting and finishing of midfielders like Ward, Maier and Lindsay McKinnon will be vital.
The Young Guns:
Coming into the season, there were questions of how this young, fairly inexperienced roster will handle the escalated Division I competition. Luckily for Hofstra, it has seen the outbreak of two freshmen, midfielders Brittain Altomare and April Iannetta. Altomare leads the team in points with 31 (15 goals, 16 assists) while Iannetta has recorded 13 goals and seven assists. If they continue to progress and improve their games into the tournament, Hofstra might be able to make some noise.
The Net Minder:
Senior Jaclyn Pandolf has proved that she is an elite NCAA goalie. She ranks ninth in the nation in save percentage (.493), twelfth in saves (145) and eight in saves per game (9.67). Pandolf recorded a career high in saves in a single game with 20 against the third ranked Maryland Terrapins, and has proved time and time again this year that she is capable of making the tough saves. With the offensive ability of James Madison, she will be busy. The Pride will need a special game from her to progress.
The Draw Control:
Draws have not been a strong aspect of Hofstra's game as the Pride has been out-drawn this season 201-157. In order to provide the offense with possession and keep the ball out of the opposition's stick, Maier and company will need to be sublime.