Former St. Anthony's star Will Manny propels UMass to comeback victory over Hofstra
Will Manny, the former St. Anthony's high school star from Massapequa, felt right at home as a visitor Saturday night.
"I had about 30 people here to watch me and I'm looking forward to seeing them right now," Manny said as he headed toward a postgame parking-lot gathering.
The senior attack for the University of Massachusetts had six assists, including one that produced the game-winning goal by Colin Fleming with 5.9 seconds left, as the Minutemen rallied from a four-goal deficit to stun Hofstra, 9-8, before a crowd of 2,447 at Shuart Stadium.
The victory put a serious dent in the Pride's postseason hopes. Hofstra (7-6), which has lost five of seven, now must win its final regular-season game next Saturday night against Penn State at Shuart Stadium to make the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament, which will be hosted by the top-seeded and No. 9-ranked Nittany Lions. The other three spots already have been clinched by Penn State, Drexel and Towson.
The Minutemen (6-7), who trailed 5-1 in the first half and 6-3 at halftime, gained possession with 13.9 seconds left after Hofstra did not get off a shot on goal after a stall warning.
After a timeout, Manny took the ball behind the cage and said he was looking for "a midfield dodge from the wing," but he couldn't find an open man. So he carried the ball around the net, cradling carefully and searching for a teammate in shooting position as the clock ticked down.
Suddenly Manny found Fleming alone at the top of the slot, and his blast got past Chris Selva, who excelled in net with 17 saves.
That was a dagger, especially after Hofstra recovered from an 8-7 deficit to dramatically tie the score with 1:52 left on a goal by Brian Von Bargen (Wantagh).
"That was a hell of a shot the kid hit at the end," Hofstra coach Seth Tierney said of Fleming, who had scored one goal on 37 shots entering the game.
Of Manny, Tierney said, "He's a dangerous player and we didn't get into his gloves . You've got to win one-goal games in Division I, and to win one-goal goals, you've got to be smarter."
Hofstra has lost its last four one-goal contests. The Pride might have avoided a defeat if not for the play of another Long Island product, redshirt freshman goalie Zach Oliveri of Connetquot, who made 13 saves, including a couple of point-blank stops that prevented Hofstra from blowing the game open in the second quarter.
Oliveri and Selva traded big saves during one fourth-quarter sequence that kept the score tied at 7. UMass went ahead when Manny set up Connor Mooney with 8:47 left. Von Bargen answered, setting up the final sequence.
"We knew UMass was better than its record," Tierney said of a team that finished the 2012 regular season undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the country.
The Minutemen can earn a CAA Tournament berth but will need plenty of help next weekend, including a loss by Hofstra. "We still have a chance, and that's all you can ask," Manny said. "You can't fold if you are a leader."