Ever since last fall, it has been impossible for Kevin Ford to get his men's lacrosse season off on the right foot. That's because twice, in the same exact place, the sophomore attack from Floral Park has broken that foot, the last time Jan. 25, a week before Hofstra's first practice.
He finally was able to return to the field in late March, and he played against Massachusetts on March 27 and Army on March 30. Then - "maybe I was over-compensating," he said - Ford injured his left foot in practice, suffering a stress reaction.
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Saturday, however, was stress-free. There was no agony of the feet; just ecstasy of the feat.
In the first college lacrosse game at New Meadowlands Stadium, Ford scored the first goal and had a key role in Hofstra's 12-11 victory over Delaware in the opener of the Big City Classic tripleheader.
Ford and Jay Card scored three goals each and Stephen Bentz of Massapequa scored two as Hofstra (7-3, 1-2 CAA) won an important game against its longtime league rival. The Pride is No. 10 in the coaches poll and No. 12 in the NCAA/media poll, both polls taken two wins ago on April 4. The Blue Hens fell to 5-6, 0-2.
"We grew up a little today," coach Seth Tierney said. "Hofstra lacrosse lives to see another day, with our destiny in our hands."
It was all about the feet for Ford, whose performance was all the more sweet because he didn't learn he would be playing until just minutes before the game. He thought he might be used only in an emergency.
"I wasn't sure," said Ford, who also had an assist. "But right before the game started, [Tierney] said I'd play the second shift. He told me, 'Once those [Delaware] middies go out, you and Stein are going to switch.' I went out there and scored a goal right away. It was awesome. It gave me a huge emotional lift."
But Hofstra needed much more than that. In fact, the Blue Hens took a 4-2 lead early in the second quarter before Ford took a feed from Bentz to make it 4-3 and spark a three-goal spree that helped Hofstra take an 8-7 halftime lead.
Ford took a pretty pass from Card to make it 9-7 30 seconds into the third quarter. That was the second of four straight Hofstra goals. The Pride led 12-8 with 12:26 left but Delaware scored twice in 21 seconds to make it 12-10 with 6:17 left. Tierney wasn't pleased.
"It's unacceptable for us to be ahead 12-8 and for it to be a one-goal game at the end," he said, although the Blue Hens' final goal was with two seconds left. "But it's Hofstra-Delaware. It's not a beauty contest. We got dirty and they got dirty."
The Blue Hens neutralized the nation's leading scorer coming into the game, Hofstra attack Jamie Lincoln, who was averaging 5.3 points per game and had seven hat tricks. Lincoln scored only one goal Saturday, but Ford was among those who made up the difference. "His teammates stepped up for him," Tierney said.
For Ford, the game was a giant step. At last, he was able to put his best foot forward.
Syracuse tops Princeton
No. 3 Syracuse breezed past Princeton, 13-4, in the nightcap of the tripleheader before the sparse remains of 25,710 at New Meadowlands Stadium. The Orange (8-1), whose only loss was to No. 1 Virginia, 11-10, on March 7, was led by Canadian-born attack Cody Jamieson, who had four goals and an assist. The most spectacular goal came from Tim Desko, son of Syracuse coach John Desko. He took a pass from Chris Daniello with his back to the goalie and, without looking, fired it between his legs for the final goal of the first half. Mike Chanenchuk of St. Anthony's led Princeton (7-2) with two goals.