By Max Sass, Sports Editor
HEMPSTEAD, NY - Expectations were sky high for the Hofstra lacrosse team after upsetting no. 7 Johns Hopkins University 14-6 on March 13. The Pride lived up to its potential Saturday afternoon, beating Sacred Heart University 14-6 at Shuart Stadium to improve to 3-1 on the season.
The Pride was led by its offense all day as junior attackmen Stephen Bentz, Jamie Lincoln and Jay Card overwhelmed the Pioneers with their scoring prowess. Bentz scored career-high five goals to go with Card's season-high four goals and Hofstra got another three from Lincoln.
Head coach Seth Tierney was preparing his team for a battle all week after last season's poor performance against Sacred Heart. The Pride barely pulled out a victory in Fairfield, CT last year in its match with the Pioneers. "Last year we had a very big win against Princeton and went up to Sacred Heart and it was 6-5," Tierney said post game.
As happy as the team was with the victory over Johns Hopkins, the entire week was focused on preparing for Sacred Heart instead of celebrating. "It started about two and a half minutes after we beat Hopkins," Tierney said.
The first quarter of the game appeared to be the same story one year later for the Pride. Hofstra did not lead at any point in the first quarter and ended the first fifteen minutes tied 3-3. Tierney took the break to let his team know his displeasure. "I didn't like the sense of urgency," Tierney said.
The Pride moved past the close first quarter and outscored Sacred Heart 11-3 over the last 45 minutes. "I think the result was what we wanted," Tierney said, "I just wish it was a little cleaner." Tierney was able to accept the victory despite the sloppy start. "It is not a beauty contest," he said, "we have to put the ball in the goal."
Hofstra was the highest ranked team on the Pioneers' schedule and it was evident Sacred Heart came out gunning for the target on the Pride's back. Both teams played very physical and Card was the subject of much of the rough play. Card got knocked down a number of times and similar to earlier games, was shadowed and double-teamed for the entirety of the game.
"Jay is a big boy," Tierney said. "He will tell you he has been gripping his stick a little tight." Sacred Heart marked the second straight game, following Johns Hopkins that Card was under attack. "If I get knocked down I am not going to retaliate," Card said. "I am just going to worry about what I can control and worry about the next play."
Despite getting knocked around, Card managed to have his best game of the season. The All-America candidate credited much of his performance to his teammates. "Benny [Bentz] is really stepping up and making my job a lot easier," Card said.
Following a dominant performance against Johns Hopkins that earned him CAA Rookie of the Week honors, freshman goalie Rob Bellairs showed his inexperience in the first quarter against Sacred Heart. Bellairs had six saves in the game, but just one in the first quarter compared to the three goals he let in.
Tierney hesitated postgame before assessing Bellairs play. After a pause he said, "I am going to have to look at the film. I don't think he did a bad job. I think he played a little better in the second half."
Sophomore goalie Andrew Gvozden who had not played since being removed at halftime of the Princeton game, entered the game with four minutes remaining when the Pride held a seven-goal advantage.
The Pride fans were not only treated to a dominating win but also beautiful weather. The game was played in 70-degree temperatures with a cool breeze, a pleasant change from the 40 mile per hour winds and monsoon-like rain that the Pride played in against Johns Hopkins one week ago.
Hofstra takes two days off before travelling to St. John's University Tuesday night. The Pride will be on the road for the second time this season and will be seeking its first victory away from Shuart Stadium.