The Hofstra women’s lacrosse team can’t miss it. There it is, hanging in plain sight on the wall of head coach Shannon Smith’s office — a depth chart that, even two weeks before the start of the regular season, was constantly being shuffled.
“Whether you’re a freshman, sophomore, junior or senior, you could be anywhere on the chart,” senior defenseman and captain Shelby Milne said. “It’s competitive and I’m really excited to see where it ends up.”
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The chart’s fickle nature, and public presence, is part of Hofstra’s new ‘team mentality,’ something that Smith is eager to talk about when questioned about the upcoming season, one that begins Saturday at the University of New Hampshire.
The goal is to prevent the postseason folly of last May. After an undefeated CAA record in the regular season, the Pride came up short of a conference championship, or an NCAA Tournament bid, falling in overtime to Towson 7-3 in the semifinals of the CAA Tournament.
“Losing in the semifinals after being regular-season champs is not satisfying to us,” Smith, the defending CAA Coach of the Year, said. “ . . . Looking back on it, I would rather have had that CAA championship and that ring at the end of the season. That’s an expectation for us now.”
But balancing thoughts of revenge and a fresh outlook toward a brand new season can be a tightrope walk, one that has both perils and pitfalls. Hofstra knows this.
“I don’t want this team to be focusing on the past,” senior midfielder and captain Lindsey Alfano said. “ . . . You can’t expect to try and pick up where you left off, you need to evaluate the team that you have now and work with the strengths that you have now.”
And Alfano, who won a county championship at Hauppauge in 2011, believes that the Pride is even more dangerous than the team that failed to lose a regular season conference game last year.
“I think we’re a much stronger team,” she said. “We have seven attackers on the offensive end of the field who can score, dodge, and have both right and left hands. We have threats all over. We’re going to be a very unscoutable team.”
Tiana Parrella, who starred at Miller Place, is one of those attackers who figures to play a major role in the Pride’s offensive success. Parrella, a junior, is Hofstra’s top returning scorer. She had 23 goals and 11 assists last year, scoring twice in the semifinal loss to Towson.
“It fuels my fire,” Parrella said of that loss. “It left me very unsatisfied and, obviously as an athlete, I hate losing.”
If the CAA Tournament loss and the constant threat of diminished playing time isn’t enough to get Hofstra’s players focused for the spring season, the perceived lack of respect from being selected fourth in the preseason CAA coaches poll might just be enough to push them over the top, or up the depth chart.
“I have all the confidence in the world that this team is going to do big things this season,” Alfano said, “and I think we’re really going to surprise a lot of people.”