April 25, 2009

Gandolfi, Whitcomb Lead Hofstra over Drexel

from press release

Junior midfielder Corrine Gandolfi capped a personal-best season with a career-high six goals and senior midfielder Lauren Whitcomb capped an impressive career with two goals in the season finale, helping Hofstra close out 2009 with a 18-10 victory over Colonial Athletic Association(CAA)-rival Drexel in front of a sun-drenched "Senior Day" crowd Saturday afternoon at James M. Shuart Stadium.

Hofstra's surging offense went on a 9-0 first half run while junior goalkeeper Mary Cuddihy made eight saves as the Pride finished 10-6 and 4-3 against the conference. Gandolfi finished the year with 45 goals and nine different players scored for the Pride, which finished with its first 10-win season since 2007 and cracked double-digits in the win category sixth time in the past 10 seasons.

Junior attacker Courtney O'Connor chipped in two Hofstra goals and junior midfielder Liz Falco ended the year with a hat trick, snapping the Pride's two-game losing streak. Drexel concluded the season 7-9 and 0-7 versus the CAA.

Drexel's methodical offensive approach paid off when Charlotte Wood flicked a shot into the top half of the cage, putting the Dragons up by a goal 1:25 into the contest.

Hofstra shook off the rough start, forging a 9-0 run with goals from Gandolfi, Whitcomb, Sandy Wasserbach, O'Connor and Stephanie Rice to put the game away. Through the first 30 minutes, the Pride established a 26-9 edge in shots and a 21-12 lead in ground balls. For the game, Hofstra out-shot Drexel, 45-25 and collected 44 groundballs.

Whitcomb fired the Pride's opening salvo, converting on a free-position shot to make it one-all at 3:18. Gandolfi extended the lead almost four minutes later, becoming just the seventh Pride player to reach the single season 40-goal mark when her short-angle shot beat goalkeeper Lauren LaBella.

Gandolfi's goal total is the seventh-highest in school history. She finished the season on a hot streak, totaling 12 goals in the final three games. By wrapping up a 70-point season, Gandolfi finished in sole possession of fourth place on the single season scoring list.

Wasserbach, a junior midfielder added a goal and Gandolfi scored twice more during the run, picking up the hat trick with 18:38 remaining in the first half. O'Connor, took junior middfielder Liz Falco's pass and flicked a shot into the cage, handing Hofstra a 6-1 lead. All three of Falco's goals game in the final half, marking four Pride players with multi-goal games.

Hofstra would add two more goals, chasing LaBella for Whitney Johnson after Gandolfi's fourth goal of the half. Drexel finally ended the run of unanswered goals when Katie Lawson registered her 35th goal of the season. Senior midfielder Jacquelyn Hetzel reestablished Hofstra's offense touching a minute before halftime, putting the Pride up, 10-2, heading into the break.

Drexel opened the second half with two goals, cutting the deficit to six. But Drexel would not get any closer to making a comeback, thanks in part to Falco scoring her 27, 28 and 29th goals in the final period.

Today's game marked the final game in a Hofstra uniform for the Pride's six seniors (Jen Bach, Lauren Eberling, Hetzel, Alysse Ruszkowski, Cat Thoreson and Whitcomb).  This year's group compiled 40 victories during their four-year careers, and they made two appearances in the Colonial Athletic Association title game. In 2007 this group helped Hofstra capture its first CAA title and advance to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in program history.

Whitcomb closed her career as one of the top goal scorers and top draw control specialists in program history. She accumulated 87 career goals and 95 draw controls, with her draw control total ranking fifth all-time in Hofstra Lacrosse history.

One of the top defenders in program history, Alysse Ruszkowski closes her career with 119 ground balls and 89 caused turnovers. Her caused turnover total is the second-best total in school history and her ground- ball toal ranks sixth all-time.

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