TUESDAY, MAY 01, 2012
Hoffman transitions to JU scoring leader
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Ali Hoffman has something for the transition from freshman to sophomore.

In high school, a lack of playing time in her first high school year made her determined enough to start as a sophomore. In college, a boost in confidence between years one and two has led her to become the leading scoring cog in the JU women’s lacrosse team’s offensive machine.

Hoffman, from Gambrills, Md., outside Annapolis, has been named the team’s Most Valuable Attackers and has the numbers to win the MVP award for just about any team.

She leads the team in scoring with 55 (32 goals, 23 assists) points and set the game, single season and career records for assists, has 16 ground balls and 11 caused turnovers and at least one, and possibly more, games to play this season. Her 32 goals double her freshman output of 16.

“My freshman year I was lucky with playing time,’’ Hoffman said. “I started 16 games but didn’t have the scoring I’ve had this year because I was more a role player on attack. They could trust me with the ball in possession but I wasn’t really making a lot happen.’’

That changed.

Not only did Hoffman use the time between her first and second years to continue to sharpen her stick skills, but her confidence swelled because of all the early playing time.

“I think I just got a lot more confidence,’’ she said. “It’s hard to step on the field your freshman year and play against these really good teams. And, I think my teammates and I started playing better together and started reading each other more. My teammates are really good at getting open and that definitely helps with the assists.’’

The assists, of course, come because of some of what she does but getting her to talk about it isn’t the easiest task.

“I work on stick skills which helps to be able to pass from different angles but I would say that because of the players on attack it helps me get assists because they’re so fast and crafty getting open,’’ Hoffman said.

“Her improvement from last year has been great,’’ coach Mindy McCord said. “Last year she was a good possession player and now she is a leader in points and leading the team in assists. Her consistency and step up as a key attacker has been a key to our success.’’

The same sort of success ‘‘happened’’ after her first year of high school at St. Mary’s in Annapolis on the junior varsity team.

Freshmen didn’t play much there but she didn’t let it get her down but heightened her competitiveness and pushed her to work harder.

“I don’t really get discouraged, it just makes me play harder if I’m not playing a lot,’’ she said. “It was the perfect incentive to make me want to work harder.’’ Her junior year she moved to varsity and saw quite a bit of playing time and went back to starting as a senior.

But back to this year and what should be several post season awards, not something Hoffman worries about.

“Not at all,’’ she said. “I’ve never been one to worry about awards because I feel like if I am thinking about awards too much I’m not playing for the reasons I like to play. My goal has never been to make All County, I just have a lot of fun playing lacrosse and that’s why I do it. Sometimes, I get just as happy seeing one of my teammates score or do something really cool than me.’’

The JU season winds down this weekend with the National Lacrosse Conference tournament in Davidson, N.C. Last year, the Dolphins lost in the final to High Point and the two are the top two seeds again this year.

“Everyone’s ready for it and hopefully we’ll be able to make it to the championship,’’ she said. “We lost to High Point earlier this season (18-12 at High Point), so I think it’s time for all of us to bring our A game and we’ll be ready for it.’’

- Jim Nasella