A year after Hofstra men’s lacrosse won 10 straight to mark the best start in program history, the Pride is focused on setting history later this spring.
Hofstra’s hot 2017 start out of the gate came to a crashing halt when the Pride dropped three-of-four including a crushing season-ending 13-12 loss to UMass in the Colonial Athletic Association semifinals on a 35-yard shot at the buzzer. Twelfth-year head coach Seth Tierney hopes the bitter taste of last year’s ending preventing Hofstra from reaching the NCAA Tournament fuels the team’s 31 returning players.
“Hopefully we can use last year’s ending in a positive form,” said Tierney, who entered the season with 98 career victories. “We are looking to make new memories.”
Hofstra senior goalie Jack Concannon has used the UMass heartbreaker as motivation for a strong 2018 campaign. The reigning second-team All American was ranked fifth nationally in save percentage and 14th in the country with an 8.80 goals against average.
“He’s one of the best goalies in Division 1 lacrosse,” Tierney said of Concannon, who was a former standout netminder at St. Anthony’s in South Huntington. “He’s been a great leader.”
Concannon leads the Pride as a senior tri-captain along with midfielder Dylan Alderman, who tallied 36 points, and defenseman Brett Osman. The trio was instrumental in guiding Hofstra to number two in the national rankings in April and in the offseason devoted countless hours toward making sure their season is a memorable one.
“The guys have done a great job motivating the team,” said Tierney of his captains. “They are looking to put their stamp on Hofstra lacrosse.”
Hofstra must fill the void left behind by graduated third-team All-American attackman Josh Byrne, who finished his Pride career with 41 goals and 25 assists. The Pride returns plenty of offensive firepower on attack led by sophomore Ryan Tierney, the son of Hofstra’s longtime head coach, who tallied 31 goals and 16 assists in his collegiate debut season.
Junior attackman Jimmy Yanes also had a strong rookie season with 20 goals and Canadian freshman Dylan McIntosh got his Hofstra career off to a solid start with a goal in the Pride’s season-opening 9-7 loss at sixth-ranked Ohio State.
Hofstra brings plenty of experience back at midfield led by Alderman, Brendan Kavanagh and Alex Moeser. Kavanagh, a Rockville Centre native and Kellenberg Memorial product, registered 23 goals and six assists as a junior.
“We’re expecting big things from Brendan,” Tierney said of his senior middie, who scored a goal in the opener at Ohio State.
Concannon anchors a close defense that returns Osman and senior Tanner Griffin. Red-shirt senior John Puckhaber, a Wantagh native and former St. Anthony’s player, has emerged as a defensive starter earlier in the 2018 season. Long-stick midfielders Eric Wenz, who is also from Wantagh and St. Anthony’s, along with Liam Blohm and Michael Altmann are taking on bigger roles on the defensive end of the field.
Wenz, Puckhaber and Concannon give Hofstra a strong St. Anthony’s flavor along with face-off specialist Kyle Gallagher. The 2016 Catholic High School Athletic Association Faceoff Specialist of the Year stepped up as a freshman at Hofstra following an injury to senior Kris Clark while also battling his own adversity after a serious diving accident in August 2016.
“There was a time where we weren’t sure if he was going to be alive or if he was going to be confided to a wheelchair and months later he is taking faceoffs for us, which is a remarkable story,” said Tierney of Gallagher’s resilience.
Hofstra boasts large geographic diversity on its 46-man roster from nine states and Canada. The team features 21 Long Islanders including several contributors from Hofstra’s backyard in backup goalie Bobby Casey (Wantagh) and midfielders Kevin O’Keefe (Oceanside), Dale Stasco (Garden City), Mark Ellis (Garden City) and Cole Consiside (Rockville Centre.)
Hofstra beefed up the non-conference schedule this season in hopes of positioning for a potential NCAA Tournament at-large bid should the Pride not capture an automatic qualifier by winning the CAA. After opening with Ohio State and Villanova, the Pride have upcoming home challenges against Georgetown this Saturday at 1 p.m. and North Carolina on March 10 for a noon faceoff.
“We are looking to be battle tested later in the season,” Tierney said.