Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Corace's Offensive Pace Leading Catawba

Despite having her shooting hand encased in a cast, Catawba (NC) sophomore Alyssa Corace's scoring aptitude has soared. Corace has popped 23 of the Indians' 87 goals, dodging and carving through double coverage and lacing shots at will.

Last season, an exasperating freshman campaign that still saw her score 19 goals, Corace was negated by a pair of torn hamstrings.

With a new mentality and a fresh bill of health, the Mahopac product has become an adept and explosive scorer. Seizing the reins of the offense at attack, Corace has developed a rapport with high-scoring teammate Meredith Jones (17 goals, six assists).

Buoyed simply by eye contact and a proclivity for locating each other in scoring situations, the tandem has a silent on-field connection that's resulted in loud scoring outbursts for the third-year program.

 Corace lit up Lees-McCrae in an eight-goal splurge, a record-tying performance that sparked a thorough 17-7 slaying.

 During a 10-8 win at Wingate, Corace had three goals and an assist as the Indians kept getting shots up and chewing up clock time, keeping an immovable foot on their South Atlantic Conference foe's throat into the final minute of regulation. Corace again morphed into the mad bomber on March 27, popping four goals en route to a 14-10 win over St. Andrews.

During that game, which featured a matchup between St. Andrews' Cat Lovallo, who had four goals, and Corace, the Indians' 8-4 second half spurt propelled them.

"This year, I said to myself, (the cast) isn't going to hold me back," Corace said. "On the field, I'm very vocal. I like to set things up and create the offense. This summer, I worked hard to get healthy and continue to keep my stick in my hand. We want to be top-4 in the conference and have a winning season."

What exactly, has pushed Corace's acceleration?

Work ethic and a sheer passion for the game.

"When I don't have class, or we have a day off, I'm passing with a teammate or shooting around or simply just watching game film and trying to fix my errors."

A key source has been Corace's father, legendary Mahopac High boys coach Joe Corace.

Coraces is synonymous with Mahopac lacrosse's golden era of the 1990s. He captured a New York State championship in 1996. Each and every step of the way, Corace has possessed the swagger and militaristic zeal of a stern tactician.

The little details, the tenets of his system, were as critical as oxygen. Under Corace's watch, non-sense was tolerated zero days out of the year. Corace was hard but fair. His players were tasked with applying suffocating defensive pressure first, asking questions later.

"My Dad has been my number one fan since the very beginning," said Corace, who can very vividly recall Saturdays spent on Mahopac High's field with her sisters, polishing her stickwork and firing up shots.

"His passion for this sport has helped me grow as an athlete. Even though I go to school in North Carolina, I always get a good luck text from him. I send the game film to him afterwards and we break it down. He has helped me tremendously, to develop into the player I am today."

Corace's road to the Tar Heel State occurred by chance. Corace was instantly sold on the opportunity to build up a freshly-minted program, leaving her own footprint at a program in the land of sweet potatoes, cotton, and tobacco.

Approximately 675 miles from her Mahopac stomping grounds, Corace has embraced the slow, toned-down and relaxed style of the Salisbury, NC. While she's experienced some culture shock and hears more "y'alls" per day than she cares to count, there are some benefits to the new locale.

"Everyone is much more friendly and relaxed down here," Corace explained.

"You wake up in the morning and it is 40 degrees, but the weather report says it's supposed to be 80 that day. And, it isn't 80 degrees until we have practice at 3. I love it."