Alexa Mattera of Hofstra, third from left, gets congratulated by...

Alexa Mattera of Hofstra, third from left, gets congratulated by teammates after scoring a goal in an NCAA women's lacrosse game against Bucknell at Shuart Stadium on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018. Credit: James Escher

The early mornings Alyssa Parrella and her Hofstra teammates spent on draw controls this preseason paid off in a big way Saturday afternoon for the Pride, which translated a huge edge in the circle into a lopsided margin on the scoreboard.

Parrella and Alexa Mattera each scored four goals for the Pride, which topped visiting Bucknell, 13-1, in a non-conference women’s lacrosse game at Shuart Stadium in the team’s season opener. Hofstra won 14 of the game’s 15 draw controls, which helped the hosts outshoot Bucknell 30-10.

“We’ve been working on them our entire preseason,” said Parrella, who had nine draw controls herself. “We’ve been outside early mornings, at 7:15, working on them together as a group and individually and I think that really set us apart today.”

The Pride asserted their dominance here from the start against Bucknell (1-1), when freshman Katie Whelan (four draw controls) won the opening draw to set up Parrella, who converted on her first shot less than a minute into the game. What rare possessions Bucknell did have often ended in turnovers, as the Bison trailed 6-0 by the time they managed their second shot attempt of the game.

“We do a lot of work with the draws,” coach Shannon Smith said of her team, which won 51.7 percent of its draw controls last season. “It’s been a real focus for us because if you have the draws, you get more possessions on offense and more opportunities to score goals . . . If we can keep that statline up, it would be tremendous for us.”

On the offensive end, Parrella led the CAA in points per game last season, so the emergence of secondary scoring options such as Mattera could be critical to the team’s chances.

“I’ve been telling everyone that [Mattera] has been really coming along,” Smith said. “To have a speedster on the right hand and a speedster on the left hand on offense is tremendous. For them to be working together so well in their sophomore year, it’s scary to think about what they’re going to do throughout the rest of this season.”

“What helped me the most from the offseason was [working on] dodging and I think having more confidence in myself,” said Mattera, who scored nine goals last season.

Drew Shapiro, Amanda Seekamp, Jenna Budd and freshmen Shannon Boyle and Arianna Esposito also scored for the Pride.

“If you look down the field, they didn’t really have any freshman mistakes,” Smith said of the six Pride players who made their debut, which also included Madison Corcoran on defense and Megan Motkowski and Riley Reh on offense.

“It’s a good way for not only our freshman, for everyone, to get their feet wet during this first game,” Parrella said of the win. “We did make a lot of mistakes that we have to work on, so . . . we’re just looking to decrease the mistakes, learn from them and obviously beat Wagner on Tuesday.”

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