By Jim Wrobel
Special to GoHolyCross.com
The 2013 Holy Cross women's lacrosse team returns 17 players and eight starters. Last year, the Crusaders went 10-8 overall and 4-2 in the Patriot League. Holy Cross made it to its fifth Patriot League championship game in program history as it fell to No. 1 seed Navy. The No. 3 seeded Crusaders defeated No. 2 seed Colgate by a 13-12 score in the semifinals. Holy Cross finished the season by winning four of its last five contests. The Crusaders' 10 overall wins and four league wins were their most since 2007. Holy Cross plays 10 of its 17 regular season games at home this season. Last year, the Crusaders went 6-1 on Holy Cross Field. With a group of upperclassmen who have a ton of big game experience, the Crusaders will be looking to win their third ever Patriot League championship.
Recently, 11th-year head coach Stephanie Ridolfi talked to GoHolyCross.com as the team prepares for the 2013 season.
GoHolyCross.com: The senior class has been to the Patriot League Tournament in two of its first three seasons and experienced going to the championship game last year. Can you talk about what the seniors bring to the team and how this big game experience can lead to more success this season?
Stephanie Ridolfi: The seniors have seen it all. Wins, losses, season ending injuries, slumps, position changes, and through it all have maintained their composure, motivation and determination. When the senior class leads, the team follows and that brings success. If they want to win, they must lead as a unit and keep everyone on the straight and narrow. They certainly have the potential to do it.
GoHolyCross.com: How did the fall season go and is there anything the team can take from the fall that they can carry over to the spring season?
Ridolfi: This fall was a learning experience. There were many people called upon to step up at various times and sometimes we succeeded and sometimes we did not. That registered with the team at the end and they are determined to fix those inconsistencies we saw and become a team that consistently can play at a high level.
GoHolyCross.com: The team returns 17 players and eight starters from a squad that won 10 games and made it to the Patriot League championship game. What did the team learn from last year's experience that can lead to success this season?
Ridolfi: I think that one of the biggest things they learned was to know how the flow of the game is going. They learned when to be more patient on attack because our defense is off and needs a minute to regroup. They also learned that they need to be more aggressive at certain times in the game because the other team wants to slow it down. The team is realizing how to be on the offense and not on the defense all the time.
GoHolyCross.com: The team returns its top four goal scorers from last season. What do you expect from your offense this season?
Ridolfi: I expect them to build off the success they had last year and to fine tune what we have developed with them. The players mesh really well and when they are on they can do some damage. They have become smarter with their opportunities and that will definitely help with the flow of the game.
GoHolyCross.com: The defense ranked third in the Patriot League last season in goals allowed per game. What is a key to having a successful season defensively?
Ridolfi: We are young on defense this year so it will be a work in progress. The biggest thing that our defense has to understand and execute is simple communication with each other. No one should be left out to dry and they need to get in sync with each other's tendencies.
GoHolyCross.com: What are you expecting from the freshman class?
Ridolfi: I expect our freshman class to first and foremost push for starting positions. No player's spot is ever secure and by pushing for a spot it breads the healthy competition that we all thrive on. I also expect them to not act like freshman. We have been on them about that all fall and how they need to get over the freshman stigma and show us what they are good at so we can utilize their talents.
GoHolyCross.com: Is there a big sense of excitement from the team to start the season?
Ridolfi: They have been home for almost five weeks now and are excited to get back on the field. They want to fix some of the issues we had this fall and make sure that this year is more successful than last.
GoHolyCross.com: Do you think the team has strong depth?
Ridolfi: Yes we have some great depth. We are returning two players that were rehabbing from injuries and that will be a great addition to what we had this past fall. We also have a transfer coming in and we hope we can get her in the mix right away. If we can stay healthy than we will have plenty of options.