Jubilation has replaced frustration for the Hofstra women's lacrosse team. The season started with disappointing losses to highly ranked teams but the Pride rebounded and has joined the top 20.
Yesterday's 17-7 victory over host Stony Brook appeared lopsided, but it took a strong second half effort to put away the Seawolves. Leading 5-4 at halftime, No. 19 Hofstra was in the same situation it faced in one-goal losses against highly ranked Notre Dame and Pennsylvania.
"It was the fact that we're good enough to beat those teams,'' goalie Jackie Pandolf said. "Those teams really didn't beat us. We made stupid mistakes or just didn't finish a goal. We talked about how we need to believe in ourselves, we need to finish it. Losing by a goal is not acceptable anymore. We're good enough to score a lot of goals.''
Corrine Gandolfi, who had five goals, found the net three times in the first half. But the score was way too close for Hofstra (5-2). "I told them that we need to play Hofstra ball,'' coach Abby Morgan said. "All the X's and 0's were right, they just needed to execute it.''
Gandolfi added, "We don't want any team to be like 'We were just with them, we had them.' If you look at the [final] score we were a lot better than just scoring five goals in the first half. We had a slow start, there were really no excuses.''
Hofstra scored three goals in the first two minutes of the second half - including Gandolfi's fourth - to take an 8-4 lead. Liz Falco, Jill Maier and Jacquelyn Ardolino each scored twice for Hofstra.
The Seawolves (2-5) got two goals apiece by Courtney Bertolone and Nicolle Moran.
Morgan had addressed Hofstra's loss to Penn, which was ranked fourth at the time. "Do you as a team believe you are good enough to win against ranked teams?'' was her rhetorical question.
The answer came when Hofstra beat No. 20 Rutgers last weekend. Gandolfi, the senior all-American who played at Northport High School, heeded Morgan's words. "I said 'Here's another top team that gets the respect we don't, just like Notre Dame and Penn. This is another opportunity that we can't less pass by us.''
Morgan discourages her team from obsessing over the rankings. "She doesn't let us look,'' Gandolfi said, "but it is always in the back of your mind. Especially when you are competing with the top teams.''