Men’s lax hungry after missing out on NCAA’s last year
After an all-time best 10-0 start ended in bitter disappointment, the Hofstra men’s lacrosse team returns to battle for 2018 with a sour taste in their mouth and vengeance on their mind.
“It definitely left a salty taste in our mouths,” said head coach Seth Tierney.
“It changes your approach on the preseason, the fall, the winter, the weightroom and the expectations.”
Indeed expectations will be as high as ever for a program that last season was ranked as high as No. 2 in the nation before a frustrating finish saw the team drop three of their last four games, causing them to miss the NCAA tournament.
The Pride returns a whopping 17 seniors, headlined by Preseason All-American goalie Jack Concannon.
One of the best goalies in Hofstra history, Concannon will look to build off a season in which he ranked No. 5 in the nation with a .571 save percentage and No. 14 in goals against average with 8.80.
Coach Tierney went as far as to say, “[Concannon] is a large portion of the backbone of this team,” and that he is, “one of the top goalies, if not the top goalie in the country.”
Concannon’s efforts in the cage will be buoyed by an offense that returns seven of the top eight leaders in points from last season, highlighted by sophomore attackman Ryan Tierney.
As the son of the head coach, Ryan Tierney expectedly burst onto the scene as a freshman last year, coming in second on the team with 31 goals and third in assists with 16.
He made a number of highlight reel plays that led to “oohs” and “aahs” from fans, but must build upon his success this season as he takes the reins from departed MLL first-round draft pick Josh Byrne.
“We can’t ask anybody to be Josh Byrne,” Seth Tierney said.
“We want everybody to be themselves and be the best versions of themselves. We have to tweak things and decide if the same offense as last year will work. We may have to change up the offense because the ingredients have changed.”
Byrne led the team in all major scoring statistics for the past two seasons and was clearly the go-to guy in the clutch.
Now that he is gone, the Pride will institute more of a committee approach on the offensive end with returning seniors Dylan Alderman, Brendan Kavanagh, Alex Moeser and junior Jimmy Yanes sharing the load with Ryan Tierney.
Last year’s 10-0 start is a great recruiting pitch to young players. Success breeds more success and the national attention that accompanied Hofstra’s rise last season has helped them on the recruiting trail.
They have a lot of new faces to assimilate this season and a lot of potential contributors that fans may not know just yet.
Seth Tierney highlighted freshmen Keegan Santos, Dominic Pryor, Bryce Tolmie and Dylan McIntosh as players who could make an instant impact as well as Stony Brook graduate transfer Mark Ellis.
The Pride will have to gel quickly if they hope to have a similar start to last season. They kick off the season by flying west to Columbus to take on Ohio State – who lost to Maryland last season in the National Championship.
Though it will be Hofstra’s season opener, the Buckeyes are already 2-0 and ranked No. 7 in the Inside Lacrosse Media Poll.
The tough stretch only begins there as Hofstra will play non-conference games against perennial contenders such as Villanova, North Carolina and Providence as well as some tricky foes like Stony Brook, Monmouth and Lehigh.
“We need to get as much as we can get out of each experience without being distracted by who is on the horizon,” Seth Tierney said.
“With the schedule that we have, that is easy to do because all of those teams demand our undivided attention.”
The Pride found ways to pull off close wins early last season, winning a plethora of games by only one or two goals. Their luck in close games ran out during CAA play and may not be fully replicated this season.
For a team that is not used to losing, Seth Tierney suggested his goal for the team is to improve at overcoming the adversity that inevitably comes with it.
“If we are to have some losses, we need to learn from them and not slide any further. Let’s identify why we lost, let’s improve at that scenario so that we can improve as we head into the conference portion of schedule,” Seth Tierney said.
Although the Pride started 2017 with a 10-0 record, the real priority this year is winning the CAA championship and making the NCAA tournament.
Saturday’s game against Ohio State will give us a good look at how a new offseason approach has shaped this team.
Seth Tierney said, “I hope the guys get on the plane to Columbus with confidence and an understanding that brothers will be to their right and to their left.”