By Joe Pantorno, Sports Editor
FOXBORO, MA-- It could have been worse. UMass could have put the game away in the first half, but the game rested with the final Hofstra possession with 37 seconds remaining against the number one team in the nation at Gillette Stadium.
After a goal from sophomore attackman Lance Yapor, his second of the game with 45 seconds left to cut its deficit to 14-13, Hofstra won the face-off through senior midfielder Zachary Pall and was poised to send the game into overtime.
Coming out of a timeout, the ball found its way into the stick of freshman attackman Mike Malave, who had his second straight three-goal game. As he looked to set up the offense, drifting towards the middle of the field, 15 yards away from the net, the ball was stripped from behind as UMass gained possession and ran out the clock.
"We played the number on team in the country and I think we shot ourselves in the foot a couple of times," said head coach Seth Tierney. "I'm okay at being wide-eyed at the number one team, but I wasn't okay with who was wide-eyed...Effort doesn't win games alone. Execution and the love for the name on the front of your jersey wins games."
The loss all but ends Hofstra's (6-7, 2-3 CAA) postseason hopes as it will need a win in its last game with some help from a St. Joseph's victory over Towson on Saturday.
"We have look at the CAA situation and we have to see how things play out," said Tierney.
UMass (12-0, 5-0 CAA) played exactly how a number one seed is expected to play to open the game. With four minutes left in the first quarter, four different scorers put the Minutemen up 4-0 with Hofstra scrambling for answers.
Goals from Yapor and Malave cut the UMass deficit in half just 33 seconds into the second quarter, but a 4-1 scoring run put the Minutemen up 8-3.
"We didn't start out the game as well as we wanted to start it out," said Tierney. "You can't expect to win against the number one team in the country with some of the mistakes we made tonight and hopefully we learn from it."
The deficit might have seemed bad enough, but UMass missed some golden opportunities whether it was lack of execution or the efforts of Hofstra senior goalie Andrew Gvozden, who was busy all game.
The senior net minder made 14 saves on a plethora of difficult scenarios just to keep the Pride within touching distance.
"He did a good job, for anybody that's a good day," said Tierney. "We needed him to make those 14 saves."
Trailing 10-6 with 7:35 left in the third quarter, Hofstra caught the Minutemen off guard, going on a 5-0 run to take its first lead of the game with 14:52 remaining in the game.
"It's just not good enough to have these things happen," said Tierney. "I understand that we're young, I understand that we're inexperienced, I know the effort has been great and I'm proud of them for that...and we have to start winning lacrosse games."
Quickly after Hofstra tied the game at 10 through senior attackman Mike DeNapoli's second of three goals on the day with 13 seconds left in the third, junior midfielder John Antoniades won the fourth quarter face-off cleanly, stormed down the field and beat UMass's Tim McCormack with a bounce shot through the legs.
UMass stormed back to take a 12-11 lead but looked to be in trouble when an illegal body check on Hofstra's freshman midfielder Steve Romano sent away Anthony Biscardi on a non-releasable penalty for two minutes. The hit was aimed at Romano's head, sending the midfielder to the turf hard and sparking a shoving match between the teams.
As Biscardi made his way to the bench to serve his penalty, junior midfielder Adrian Sorichetti, who was deemed a scratch right before the game, went over towards the guilty party and gave him a shove to which the referees assessed as unsportsmanlike conduct.
Sorichetti was forced to leave the field while DeNapoli served the one minute penalty. Instead of Hofstra getting the ball on an extra man opportunity for two minutes, possession was awarded to UMass who played keep away for two minutes.
"I didn't really notice what happened. I was in a meeting with the man up," said Tierney. "We went from two minutes up un-releasable to losing the ball and being all even, five on five for one minute."
"We didn't handle our emotions well," said Tierney. "Adrian Sorichetti didn't play for us today. When your best player doesn't play against the number one team in the country, you have to make some adjustments...He let his emotions get to him. Do I love Adrian Sorichetti? Yes. He was fighting for us."