Hofstra men's lacrosse moved to 2-0 on the season after defeating Sacred Heart on Saturday, thanks in large part to graduate student midfielder Steve Serling. Serling scored his first point for the Pride with an assist in the team's opener against Colgate, but exploded onto the scene against Sacred Heart with three goals and four assists.
Serling tallied two of his goals and three of his assists in the second half to help the Pride pull away. Senior attack Stephen Bentz helped the Pride's cause with three goals and an assist.
Sacred Heart jumped out early on the visiting Pride, taking a 3-1 lead into the first quarter break. "There are a lot of answers or excuse type answers," Hofstra head coach Seth Tierney said. "A) It shouldn't have happened. B) First goal was a man-down goal, next one is off the faceoff and it's a broken play where we're chasing a ball and we don't get a slide."
Hofstra scored the only two goals of the second quarter, Serling's first and Bentz's second of the season, to go into halftime tied 3-3. "Fellows," Tierney told his team at halftime, "I think we turned the ball over a bunch, they have long possessions, I understand that the weather is affecting some things, we're turning the ball over entirely too much. We need to get kick-started at the faceoff x, we need to have the ball, we need to find the layup not the outside shot, let's not grip our sticks so tight and let's play."
Less than three minutes into the second half, Sacred Heart jumped out to a 4-3 lead. Senior Jay Card tied the game 4-4 off an assist from Serling and sophomore midfielder Michael Burke gave the Pride its first lead of the game, 5-4, with 2:52 to play in the third quarter.
Sacred Heart junior attack Matt King scored his second goal of the game to start the fourth quarter and tied the game for the third time. Serling scored his second goal of the game to answer and gave the Pride the lead for good.
"First and foremost, it was him," Tierney said of Serling. "He is a very talented player, he is a gamer, he understands the flow, he's got very good lacrosse IQ and he makes very good reads when he's dodging."
Sophomore midfielder Aaron Jones and senior long-stick midfielder Adam Mojica followed up with goals to extend the Pride's lead to 8-5. Serling and Bentz each added another goal to finish the Hofstra scoring for the day at 10.
Hofstra would surrender a meaningless goal with under a minute to play, holding Sacred Heart to six goals in the game. The Pride has now allowed just nine goals in its first two games.
"I think it's a combination of a lot of things," Tierney said of the team's defensive success. "First and foremost, Coach [Joe] Amplo and Coach [Kevin] Unterstein, they deserve credit for us playing together. We don't have a star on defense, so we need to play together, as seven, a goalie and six players out front."
Hofstra will attempt to use its recent defensive success to propel it to a victory over no. 8 Princeton, when the Tigers come to Shuart Stadium on Saturday, Feb. 26.
"The threat of a big time attackman will now come into play this week, so it's a new challenge to us," Tierney said.
Princeton features senior attack Jack McBride, who scored 35 goals and 16 assists for Princeton last year.
Last season, in the season opener for the Pride, Princeton won at home 17-14, a loss with poor defense that Tierney was none too pleased with.
"We just really take motivation from it and a little bit of an edge," Tierney said. "You can't win lacrosse games giving up 17 [goals]. You can win lacrosse games scoring 14, but that was last year's team and we have a whole new team this year."