Smith leads Pride to first lacrosse victory as coach

Hofstra head coach Shannon Smith reacts as time

Hofstra head coach Shannon Smith reacts as time runs out against New Hampshire for her first win as coach of the Pride. (Feb. 16, 2013) (Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke)

A first-year coach in her first game, Shannon Smith nonetheless projected the self-assured certainty of someone on home turf.

The former West Babylon lacrosse phenom likes to punctuate her thoughts with "definitely," as if to drive home the confidence of her statements. And, only moments after the Hofstra women's wild 13-12 win yesterday over the University of New Hampshire -- a game where the Pride trailed 4-0 -- she said yes, this was exactly how she expected her homecoming to go.

"I did," Smith said. "Remembering my first game as a player , it's always a little bit all over the place, getting those jitters out."

It's hard to imagine that even Smith, a three-time first team All-American and 2011 Tewaaraton Award winner, could see this one coming. The Pride trailed 7-4 at the break before exploding for five straight, including Becky Conto's equalizer off Julia Riemer's feed with 6:40 to go. Claire Brady's go-ahead free position score 54 seconds later made it 12-11.

Emily Considine, who scored all four of her goals in the second half, padded the lead with 31.9 to go. Brittain Altomare added a goal. Amber Casiano led the Wildcats with four goals.

And despite the missteps of the first half -- sloppy passes and squandered goal opportunities -- Smith called the effort "a great first game."

"You're going to see people missing passes , you're going to see people missing shots," she said. "But I think we're going to be solid from here on out . . . [the comeback] showed how focused our team is."

Smith conceded that while she had something extra to prove after years of being one of Long Island's most heralded lacrosse exports, "I don't care if the eyes are on me, I don't care if there's pressure," she said.

"Definitely, I think my competitive spirit, me being driven and always wanting more and always wanting to be the best is definitely something that's going to help me in coaching and it's definitely going to help this team," she said. "That's the kind of characteristics that I'm trying to instill in this team."

And though she presented the picture of restrained intensity, Smith did take a moment to exhale. Her family, her friends, and a number of people from the West Babylon community came to watch her first game. She had no intention of failing, "but it is fun, because I know I have their love and support no matter what happens."

There is, after all, something to be said about coming home, she said, adding that "for me, playing at home was huge."

Does she feel the same now that she's calling the shots?

"Definitely."

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