By Joe Pantorno, Assistant Sports Editor
With the joy that was brought by Family Fun and Senior Day on Saturday, the Hofstra University men's lacrosse team buckled down and took the Colonial Athletic Association's regular season crown by defeating Penn State 9-4.
"Huge win tonight after last year," said head coach Seth Tierney. "We had a disappointing performance at Penn State, didn't make the CAA's, that's been on our minds all week."
Penn State was on the board after one minute and 15 seconds of play, providing the only scoring action of the first eleven minutes of the first quarter. After a few lengthy possessions that came out to nothing for both sides, sophomore midfield Ian Braddish knotted things up after finding the back of the net with a bounce shot from 18 yards out.
"I like to feed the ball more than shoot the ball," said Braddish. "I'm always looking to feed guys like [Stephen] Bentz, Jay [Card], Jamie [Lincoln] so when I'm dodging them [the defense] I mostly have my head up looking for those guys before I shoot the ball."
With 1:12 remaining in the opening 15, junior goalie Andrew Gvozden was beaten by what seemed to be a very savable shot from freshmen midfield Tom LaCrosse, which gave Penn State a 2-1 advantage at the end of one quarter.
Another bounce shot from Braddish and a strike that found the top left corner of the net from junior midfield Mike DeNapoli within one minute of each other gave Hofstra its first lead of the night with 9:25 left in the first half.
Though it found itself down a man in multiple situations, Hofstra did an exceptional job short handed to keep the Penn State pressure to a minimum.
The goals from Braddish and DeNapoli was all the scoring we would see in the first half, as the Pride hit the locker room leading 3-2 as the defenses looked strong.
A man up goal from junior midfield Kevin Ford and Braddish's third of the game just 45 seconds between each other put Hofstra up 5-2 with less than five minutes gone in the third quarter.
The Pride's scoring run was capped off with a goal from sophomore midfield Adrian Sorichetti who beat Kaut with a gorgeous left handed shot from the right of the goal.
"After halftime we put a couple of goals in and we exhaled a bit," said Tierney. "I would have loved to keep that pace up a bit."
Penn State tried to push the tempo to break the scoring drought and did so with just under five minutes left in the third when freshman Gavin Ahern put home a shot from point blank range.
Hofstra's special teams continued to step up despite going down a man multiple times, killing penalties with relative ease.
Senior attack Stephen Bentz found the back of the net in the fourth quarter after a pass from Ford left him all alone to make it 7-3.
The Pride went two men down with three minutes gone in the quarter after successive pushes from Sorichetti and redshirt freshman defender Corey Caputo, but some stellar play from senior defender Mike Skudin and senior midfield Tim Holman, who single handedly eliminated a two on one Penn State break with a vital interception, kept the Nittany Lions at bay yet again.
Sorichetti grabbed his second goal of the game with 7:54 left in the game to make it 8-3 as Penn State could not find a way through Hofstra's defense and Gvozden.
"I thought they [the defense] did a great job; I really did," said Tierney. "You got four seniors out there, guys who you may not recognize at a press conference but you certainly see them running around on the field. Mike Skudin, Steven DeNapoli, Timmy Holman, Adam Mojica those four seniors are doing an unbelievable job nailing that defense down."
Braddish collected his fourth point of the night by feeding Bentz for his second goal of the game and Hofstra's last time on the score sheet.
Hofstra finishes its regular season campaign in first place at 13-1 overall and 5-1 in CAA play.
"Now the 13 wins go away," said Tierney. "We have a conference tournament that is about to start and there are four teams that are guaranteed one game, that's it, that's all they're guaranteed and two teams will get to play again."