Confidence propels women's lacrosse to postseason
After narrowly missing out on the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) tournament last year, the Hofstra women’s lacrosse team earned a spot in the top four for the first time since 2015.
They are not only aware, but also very eager to start their journey towards their first conference championship since 2007.
The Hofstra Pride is 10-6 overall so far on the year, and 3-2 in conference play. The team has a 4-4 record at home and are 5-2 on the road this season. The Pride had to pull out a number of miraculous wins on the year in order to be where they are now.
“The main focus is taking the mistakes that we made in the beginning of the year and focusing on not letting those mistakes happen again moving forward,” said junior midfielder Alyssa Parrella in regard to the key for this team moving forward. “It’s do or die at this point in the season and those little mistakes are going to be 10 times more important than they were. We are working as hard as we can to make sure we limit the mistakes.”
These little mistakes can include small lapses in their offense or defense that can cost them close games down the line, like we saw against both top-two seeded CAA opponents James Madison University (JMU) and Towson University.
“We are going to see Towson in the first game [of the CAA Tournament], and it’s something that we know we never want the feeling of losing to them again this year like we did especially by one, and JMU as well,” Parrella said on who their key matchups will be in the tournament. In back-to-back weeks of the season, Hofstra fell by one point to rivals JMU and Towson, the former of which was a double-overtime contest. The team feels that if they can clean up some of their errors made throughout the course of the season, they will be in good shape heading into the tournament.
“One thing that I’ve learned from when I was playing was not to just rush through the moment; breathe it in and take it in and realize how special it is, because not a lot of people get to play in their conference tournament,” said Hofstra head coach Shannon Smith. “As long as we go in with confidence and us being Hofstra, I think that we will be OK down at the tournament.”
Hofstra’s team this year has a lot of new faces on their roster; but none of the players, not even the veterans, have played in a CAA tournament. It will be quite a challenge adjusting to the added competition and pressure of playing on the big stage, but nothing the Pride will not be able to handle.
“Everyone’s confidence has to be very high for us to perform well because there are a lot of younger player stepping up into bigger roles at this point in the season,” said sophomore midfielder Katie Whelan. “For them to play with confidence and know they are capable of doing anything out on the field is really huge for us.”
A lot of players had to look at themselves and dig deep throughout the entire season and find ways that they can produce for this team. With each practice and game that went by, the players evolved, and that growth was seen out on the field during their regular season competition.
“The best part of this year so far is becoming a unit and growing so much,” Parrella said. “We have freshmen stepping up big time and they have been doing that since they got here.”
“Not only have they grown and became such a power force for us, we also grew as a unit and became so much stronger,” she added.
“Our team chemistry is really good,” Whelan said. “We have so much talent on our team and building our own identity will be big for us especially going into the CAA tournament, which we have never done. Everyone on the team has never done that, so we are all excited for that and experiencing it as a group.”
Hofstra will begin their CAA tournament run as the No. 3 seed, matching up with No. 2 Towson in the first round. The Tigers were victorious in the regular-season contest between the two teams, beating the Pride 13-12.
“It is going to be really fun to have another shot to play that game,” Smith said. “But at the end of the day, we can’t really make that moment too big; this is the first time anyone on this team is going to be in the CAA tournament.”
The Pride are making it clear their aspirations are big and they are confident going into the CAA tournament, no matter who they face.
“Our team wants more success because they feel it, they see it, they want to taste it more.” Smith said. “It’s tangible, and they see that if they put in more work you get more success.”
“This wouldn’t be possible without our captains really buying into our coaching staff and us buying into them,” she added. “They have been doing a great job of getting the players to buy in and they are getting more confident.”
Moving forward, the Pride feel that they are in a great place not just going into the tournament, but also heading into next season. No matter how the tournament shapes up, they judge this year as a successful one for the team, overcoming lots of hardships through hard work and coming together as a team.
“When we look at this season, we will be able to measure it as a success,” Smith said. “The program has grown tremendously this year, the culture has been set, the standard has been set, the expectations have been set, the chemistry and family that we have in that locker room has been a success. Overall the season is a success, but we want more from it, we want a championship; but we aren’t going to define our season on whether or not we win or lose a championship.”
No. 3 Hofstra begins their CAA championship run on Friday, May 3, when the Pride faces off against No. 2 Towson in the semifinals at 7:05 p.m. in Harrisonburg, Virginia.
No. 1 JMU takes on No. 4 Elon University at 4:05 p.m. to kick off the four-team tournament.
Image courtesy of Hofstra Athletics