On a senior-laden Hofstra lacrosse team full of big-time expectations, 18-year-old Dylan McIntosh is unexpectedly tied for the team lead in goals over halfway through the season.
The freshman phenom has earned a starting spot as Hofstra’s X (or crease attackman) and functions as the Pride’s most potent off-ball finisher. After scoring a stunning six goals in the first half against St. John’s, Hofstra fans and the rest of the NCAA took notice – this kid is the real deal.
“It felt pretty surreal really,” McIntosh said of his double hat-trick, “I wanted more to be honest.”
This kind of drive and determination is what separates McIntosh from just another scared freshman at the Division I lacrosse level. When you open the season playing national powers such as Ohio State, Villanova and North Carolina, you do not have time to be scared.
“I can’t afford to play like the freshman attackman that I am,” Mcintosh continued, “I just try to play my role, get open and finish inside.”
McIntosh is certainly adept at getting open inside. Most of his goals this season have been off catch-and-shoot plays only a few feet from the goal, as he is somehow constantly breaking away from defenders at just the right time. Head coach Seth Tierney credits his innate off-ball ability to his upbringing of playing box lacrosse in his home country of Canada.
“He has a very good understanding that comes from box lacrosse that you have to work without the ball,” Tierney said. “With his finishing ability, I think we are just scratching the tip of it.”
Yes, getting open for a shot is one thing, but being able to finish is another.
McIntosh is leading all regular contributors with a whopping .600 shot percentage. For comparison, the second-best regular contributor, Jimmy Yanes, has a .326 shot percentage.
When you watch the talented young Canuck, his intrinsic scoring methods are apparent. He will go behind the back, across the goalie’s face, and make incredible plays look easy and mundane. Considering that he is only a freshman, Tierney is thrilled about McIntosh’s progress.
“Dylan is like a piece of clay,” Tierney said. “His first couple weeks here on campus in the fall were not scary, but it was like, ‘Oh boy, what’s going on here.’ But then we got to the scrimmages in the fall and he was 1 for 10 or something like that against Penn State. A lot of people want to say, ‘Wow that’s horrible,’ but we saw it as, ‘Wow that’s pretty good.’ If he is getting open and getting these shots off, it’s going to come.”
The scoring definitely has come as the season has progressed, with the freshman scoring at least one goal in each of his last six games, three of which were hat-trick performances.
While his scoring has been paramount to Hofstra’s offensive success, McIntosh’s game is still raw in some respects.
According to Tierney, he has work to do on his dodging and footwork in order to become a more well-rounded player and playmaker. Considering that Hofstra is loaded with experienced playmakers like Ryan Tierney, Alex Moeser, Dylan Alderman, Brendan Kavanagh and Yanes, McIntosh simply fills a comfortable roll of a scorer only.
This is reflected in the stat book, where it shows that McIntosh only has one assist on the year, which came in a 14-2 blowout against Stony Brook.
When asked if his discrepancy between goals and assists was a function of who he is as a player or simply his role on the team, Tierney suggested the latter, saying, “It is probably a function of his role. We as coaches have to get him to be a player with the ball.”
McIntosh knows he has to work on dodging and footwork but suggests it has not held him back on the field due to a somewhat pigeonholed role.
“I have been doing my job, which is pretty much just to catch the ball and finish,” he said. “I am back behind crease looking for opportunities pretty much 90 to 95 percent of the time. I’m not much of an ignitor, I don’t have too fast of feet, so they have me inside doing what I do best right now.”
“Right now” is clearly the key phrase in that quote. As McIntosh grows as a player, he will have more opportunities to show different parts of his game.
While working with the coaching staff has helped him tremendously, McIntosh’s teammates have taken it upon themselves to try to groom him into the player he can be.
He credits fellow attackmen Ryan Tierney and Yanes as his role models on the team, suggesting Ryan Tierney’s success as a freshman last year as a motivating factor. The chemistry among the three has been apparent and looks promising for the future as all three will be back next season.
Despite his early success, McIntosh adamantly suggests that his teammates deserve the spotlight.
“I couldn’t attribute it to anybody else but my teammates,” he said. “They are the ones that get me the ball; they are the ones that do all the work. I’m just the one who has to put it in the net at the end of the day.”