By Joe Pantorno, Sports Editor
For eight of the nine lacrosse players celebrating senior day last Saturday, it was due to be an emotional day filled with memories. Graduate midfielder Steve Serling has been there and done that.
"Steve Serling doesn't get excited about senior day anymore," said head coach Seth Tierney jokingly. "It's his third one."
"I try not to look at those three senior days," said Serling with a smile.
A grad student, Steve Serling is in his sixth year of eligibility as an NCAA Division I lacrosse player; six years that have had ups and downs as dramatic as an overtime thriller.
Growing up in Rockville Centre, Long Island, Serling matured and developed in the middle of a lacrosse hotbed.
"I picked up a lacrosse stick coming out of the womb," said Serling. "My dad played college lacrosse so I started at a real young age at the Rockville Center lacrosse program."
Lacrosse stick securely in hand, Serling gained All-Nassau County Honors at South Side High School, choosing a Pennsylvania school, Lafayette College of the Patriot League, to play his college lacrosse at.
"My path took me to Lafayette and I never looked back," said Serling. "I'll never regret going to Lafayette. It was one of the best four years of my life and I had a great experience there and I think it made me who I am today."
From 2007-2010, the midfielder scored 72 goals while recording 24 assists, graduating with a degree in economics and business.
His numbers would have been more impressive if it were not for a ruptured spleen that ended his junior year in 2009 before it even began.
After graduation, Serling came to Hempstead, a USILA Scholar All-America Team honoree looking to take his talent to the top Division I opposition in the country while obtaining his master's degree in finance.
"I knew after I graduated from Lafayette I wanted to come home and be on Long Island," said Serling. "Both athletically and academically, Hofstra was a perfect fit and it's been a great experience."
The competition quickly took note of Serling's talent as the midfielder recorded three goals and six assists in the first four games of the season.
"Division I lacrosse is always changing and there's a lot of parody in it," said Serling. "It seems that every week there is a new team at the top."
For the second time in three years, bad luck reared its ugly head into view as Serling ruptured his spleen again, sidelining him for the rest of the season.
"Both of those years I sat out with the ruptured spleen was a learning experience," said Serling.
A sixth year was not guaranteed, but Serling managed to gain a second year of play at Hofstra and he is taking full advantage of it.
"I'm at full strength now, just taking it one step at a time," said Serling. "I'm working hard every day just to finish my last couple games out on top."
With half a decade of Division I lacrosse under his belt, Serling has stepped up to become a leader on a Hofstra team that is lacking experience.
"Being around a long time I just try to share my experience with the younger guys," said Serling. "I try to give them any advice I can while leading by example."
Serling's path and work has brought him to a crucial conference showdown with the number one team in the nation, the University of Massachusetts this Saturday, something Serling has looked forward to his entire career.
"It's kind of a dream come true for a lacrosse player," said Serling. "Playing at a big time venue like Gillette Stadium against a big-time opponent, you couldn't ask for more to finish up."
A journey six years in the making is about to come to an end, and it's up to Serling and Hofstra lacrosse to write its ending.