By Kyle Kandetzki Staff Writer
After a rough start to the 2014 season, a string of three victories have put the Pride over .500 and secured the team a spot among the top teams in the nation.
Hofstra men’s lacrosse took on the Ohio State Buckeyes at James M. Shuart Stadium on Saturday, coming away with a commanding 7-5 victory. The Pride had their best defensive showing yet, allowing the least goals of this year. Sam Llinares continued an impressive year with three scores.
“We started off this season awfully rough,” said head coach Seth Tierney. “We could’ve chosen to fold it up, but these guys chose to dig deeper.”
Ohio State opened up by scoring five minutes into the first quarter, but would be completely shut down for the remainder of the half. The Buckeyes would take 15 shots in the first half, but would score only once.
But the Pride would be kept off the board until the closing seconds of the first quarter when Llinares rushed towards the net, scoring his first of three for the game. Luckily, the offense would start to take command in the following quarter.
Each of Hofstra’s top three goal scorers would find the back of the net in the second quarter, starting with last game’s hero Torin Varn at the five-minute mark. Llinares would score unassisted again five minutes later and Lance Yapor scored his sixth of the season in the following minute, making the score 4-1.
“We had to play a ton of defense today, so when we had to take advantage of the chances we had on offense,” said Llinares. “When we had our possessions we made sure to grind them out.”
Following halftime, Hofstra would complete a hot streak of five unanswered goals when Drew Coholan scored his fourth of the season, the Pride’s second consecutive one-up goal.
But Ohio State would finally respond with their first scores in over thirty minutes of play thanks to attacker Turner Evans. Evans would score midway through the third and at the beginning of the fourth to bring the score to 5-3 in favor of Hofstra.
But the Pride offense reemerged to make sure the Buckeyes couldn’t make a comeback in the middle of the final quarter. Sam Llinares completed his second hat trick of the season, all three goals of which were unassisted.
Torin Varn would put the game permanently out of reach with his seventh goal of 2014 to make it 7-3 with seven minutes left. Ohio State managed to score twice in the remaining time they had, but the Pride took the 7-5 win.
The Pride defense that has struggled at times this season seems to have hit a stri
de. The defense has allowed only single-digit amounts of scores during this three game win streak. Goalie Chris Selva also recorded eight saves to back up the Hofstra defense.
“We could’ve changed what we were doing on defense to respond to other teams,” said Tierney. “But instead we stayed true to our Hofstra defense and decided to just do what we do better.”
Tierney credited a lot of the defensive success to sophomore Finn Sullivan, whom he assigned to guard Ohio State’s top offensive weapon Jesse King. Sullivan shut down King, allowing him to score only one goal in the final minutes of the game, an impressive feat as King came into the game with 13 goals in four games.
Hofstra’s victory landed them the 18th ranking in the weekly Warrior Division I Men’s Lacrosse poll, their first national ranking since last season. The Pride will look to move up even further with a potential fourth straight win at home against CAA opponent University of Delaware this Saturday.