Is there life after sudden death for Hofstra?
The Pride, which held a three-goal lead with five minutes remaining in regulation and had a possible game-winning goal wiped out by an illegal pick call with 43 seconds left, suffered a crushing 11-10 triple-overtime loss to Drexel Saturday night in the CAA championship game at Shuart Stadium. Cole Shafer scored his fifth goal of the game 43 seconds into the third extra period.
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"Hopefully, our numbers and our body of work will speak for themselves and allow us to continue playing," Hofstra coach Seth Tierney said. But he spoke the words softly and without much confidence, knowing full well how much his team let it get away Saturday night.
Hofstra (11-5), ranked No. 13 nationally entering the game, was the No. 1 CAA seed playing at home with a 10-7 lead, and a victory would mean an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Instead, the Dragons (12-4) earned their first berth and the Pride must play the waiting game. The NCAA Tournament selection show on ESPNU begins at 9 Sunday night.
"It was a game of runs,'' Tierney said, "and unfortunately, theirs came at the end."
A 5-0 burst to end the third period gave Hofstra an 8-5 lead, with Torin Varn scoring three of his four goals in the period. After Drexel cut it to 8-7 midway through the fourth, Lance Yapor and Mike Malave scored 1:33 apart for a 10-7 bulge.
Shafer sparked Drexel's 3-0 run that tied the score at 10 with 2:45 left. With about 45 seconds remaining, Yapor's blast found the back of the net but was nullified.
"I'll have to look at that one," Tierney said of the call. "It just didn't drop our way."
Neither team had good scoring opportunities in overtime until Shafer took a feed from Jules Raucci and scored his 35th of the season. Drexel's Ben McIntosh (one goal, four assists) was voted MVP of the tournament.
"Our defense stood on its head in the overtimes and gave us chances," said Varn, who has scored 32 goals. "It came down to one possession and one shot."
Now it comes down to some serious number-crunching by the NCAA's selection committee. Hofstra, 12th in RPI, probably needs Penn, with a No. 3 RPI ranking, to defeat Harvard Sunday in the Ivy League title game. In that scenario, Hofstra might get an at-large bid. But if Harvard wins the Ivy's automatic bid, Penn and Cornell likely will get at-large bids ahead of the Pride.
None of those machinations would have been necessary if Hofstra had held off the determined Dragons.
"As much as it hurts to say it,'' Tierney said, "that's one of the better lacrosse games I've ever been a part of."