A season removed from losing 18 players, a more veteran Hofstra men’s lacrosse team is fueled for a turnaround.
Hofstra began the new campaign 2-1 and are already close to matching last year’s disappointing 5-9 season that was plagued by injuries. The Pride were without four of their top six offensive players for much of last season and dropped five one-goal games including two in league play to just miss out on qualifying for the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament (CAA).
“It was not an easy year and we had a lot of one-goal losses,” said 14th-year head coach Seth Tierney. “It’s a new beginning this year and a different feeling.”
The Pride returned nearly 90 of its scoring from last year led by senior attackman Ryan Tierney, who tallied 42 goals and 13 assists for 55 points. Tierney, the son of Hofstra’s head coach, is off to a hot start to the 2020 season garnering US Lacrosse Player of the Week honors following a career-high eight points in Hofstra’s 12-9 win against Michigan on Feb. 15. He also tallied three goals in a 10-8 loss to Villanova last Saturday.
“I hope his main focus this year is to enjoy the moment,” Coach Tierney said of his son. “I want him to enjoy it and have some fun with it and not feel any added pressure.”
The Hofstra offense suffered an early-season blow when junior Canadian attackman Dylan McIntosh suffered a season-ending injury in practice just prior to the Villanova game. McIntosh, who had netted seven points in his first two games, also missed much of last year with a broken jaw.
Other Canadian newcomers have sparked the Pride’s offense early led by freshman midfielder Justin Sykes, an Ontario native who tallied four goals and two assists in Hofstra’s season-opening 21-11 win against Wagner. Freshman attackman Ryan Sheridan from Victoria, British Columbia is also making his presence felt early with five goals.
Sykes and Sheridan are among a sleigh of young talent on Hofstra’s offense that includes freshman attackman Sam Lufti, sophomore attackman Whit Stopak and sophomore midfielder Sterlyn Ardrey. Junior midfielders Riley Forte and Dominic Pryor are also integral parts of the offense, which has had increased possessions this season thanks to faceoff specialist Brian Herber winning 63 percent of his draws.
The Hofstra offense has a new coordinator this season in veteran college lacrosse coach Tim McIntee, a former teammate of Tierney with the New York Saints of the Major Indoor Lacrosse League. McIntee, who was a volunteer coach at Hofstra last year, spent 16 years as the head coach at Manhattan College and also had assistant coaching stints at Dartmouth and Mount St. Mary’s.
Senior long stick defensive midfielder Michael Altmann is contributing on both ends of the field during his final collegiate season. The 6-2 Florida native posted 13 groundballs, three caused turnovers and four points through the Pride’s first three games.
Senior Eric Wenz, who registered four caused turnovers through three games, leads Hofstra’s close defense unit along with junior Keegan Santos and sophomore Danny Ochs. Junior red-shirt goalie Bobby Casey, a Wantagh High School product, is off to a solid start in net and keyed the Michigan win with eight saves including several point-blank stops.
“This is my senior season so I want to make everything count,” said the 6-5 Wenz, a Wantagh native who played at Catholic high school power St. Anthony’s. “It definitely helps having a lot of experience.”