The Hofstra women’s lacrosse team is looking to get back to basics this season.
A year after posting an 8-9 record and coming up short of reaching the CAA tournament, the Pride have their sights set on a fresh start, relying on a core of experienced players and incoming freshman who say they’re hoping to change the culture of the program.
“We’re going into every game thinking it’s our biggest,” said junior midfielder Alyssa Parrella, who racked up 57 goals and 23 assists last season. “This team, we have a million different personalities and we all mesh together. We believe that’s how we’re going to be successful.”
Hofstra opened up the season with an immediate challenge, falling 15-10 at USC on Saturday afternoon. Katie Whelan led the way with four goals and one assist, while Parrella added four goals.
Despite the season-opening defeat, Hofstra coach Shannon Smith said the team came into the matchup not only expecting the test, but embracing it, a mindset she hopes Hofstra will maintain throughout the year.
“It’s such a great opportunity,” Smith said of taking on the Trojans for the first time in program history. “We've had a great preseason and we've got a very competitive non-conference. That's really going to help prepare us.”
Hofstra’s schedule doesn’t get any easier. The Pride host perennial powers Maryland on March 2 and Johns Hopkins on March 9 and the team knows there will be a learning curve, particularly for the 10 first-year players on the roster. They’re expecting a few miscues, but Smith added that embracing the ups and downs of the season will only lead to a stronger foundation heading into league play.
Hofstra opens its CAA schedule against William & Mary on April 5.
“Our team has really bought into the level of expectations and raising the standard of excellence of our program,” Smith said. “We want to hold each other accountable.”
Pride senior Annalise Martin echoed that sentiment, adding that Hofstra hopes to come into the season with a competitive chip on its shoulder, something she felt the team had lacked in past years.
“We want to go, we want to win, we want to be the best,” Martin said. “Even against ourselves, but when we step onto the field against another jersey, it drives us even more.”
The Pride are hoping the mix of experience and preseason determination will propel them to success this season. Hofstra has its sights set on a postseason run and the team is determined to lay that road themselves, holding each other accountable for every facet of the game.
At the same time, however, the Pride are ready to have some fun, embracing the chance to leave their mark on the field and set a new standard for the program.
“We’re celebrating the little things,” said junior defender Darcie Smith. “It’s fun to be around each other and we’re bringing that to our game as well.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Alyssa Parrela, Junior, Midfielder
Led Hofstra in points (80), goals (57), assists (23) and draw controls (54) last year, a vocal leader on the field who is expected to spark the offense this season.
Alexa Mattera, Junior, Midfielder
Anther scoring threat for the Pride, she finished with 40 goals last year, ranking seventh in the CAA, as well as notching eight assists.
Darcie Smith, Junior, Defender
Started all 17 games for the Pride on defense last season, leading the team with 37 ground balls as well as 30 draw controls, 15 caused turnovers and one goal.