TODAY'S PAPER

Alyssa Parrella leads Hofstra’s lacrosse hopes

Hofstra's Alyssa Parrella looks to shoot against Towson in a game at Shuart Stadium last season. / James Escher

Alyssa Parrella wasted little time last year in establishing herself as one of the top freshmen in women’s lacrosse.

The Miller Place product scored five goals and had two assists in her Hofstra debut, and the points kept coming as Parrella was 13th in the nation and led all freshmen in points per game with 4.75.

“Against Bucknell in the opener, I was very nervous but once I stepped on the field, I was just so excited,” she said.

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Parrella is now a big reason why Hofstra is so excited about its future.

“We have a lot of work to do but we have high expectations,” said Parrella, who led the Colonial Athletic Association in goals and points per game, earning league rookie of the year and first-team all-conference honors. “We’re expecting a lot of wins and a lot of goals.”

“She’s on a mission this year,” Pride coach Shannon Smith said of Parrella, who was also named an Inside Lacrosse Preseason honorable mention All-American. “She’s gotten quicker, she’s gotten faster and she’s more fluid on the offensive side of the field. It’s scary to think that she could get that much better but I’m really excited to watch her grow over these next three years.”

Parrella also led the Pride in draw controls, ground balls and caused turnovers. She will again be the focal point of an offense that includes Drew Shapiro and Carlee Ancona, and could be the key to the team’s efforts to improve on last season’s 8-8 record.

“Our attack this year has a balance of everything,” Smith said. “Our skill level is higher, we’re quicker, we’re faster and I think you’re going to see a lot of different weapons. Go ahead and take Alyssa out, but we have six other people that can step up and score.”

One of those options will be Shapiro, who is moving from midfield to attack and coming off a campaign where she scored 39 goals. Ancona had 13 goals and 13 assists in 2017 and will be more involved in the offense, as will Alexa Mattera, who had nine goals as a freshman.

“She’s super quick, she has such a quick first step around the crease and is really focused on her finishing,” Smith said of Shapiro. “She’s one of the seniors on attack, with Carlee Ancona. They’re the old-timers of the bunch, because the rest of them are freshmen and sophomores.”

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“The freshmen are finding their spots and it’s been amazing to see what they’ve done from day one,” Shapiro said. “They’ve come in and filled the gaps in spots we’ve been lacking for the past few years.”

The Pride also return most of their key players on defense, including Amanda Seekamp, Elena Schorr, Darcie Smith, Shea McAvoy, Annalise Martin and goalie Maddie Fields.

“We told the girls, ‘I don’t think we should limit ourselves,’ ” Smith said. “We want to get to the NCAA tournament. That’s definitely a goal of ours. We want that experience and to go from there.”