The Hofstra men's lacrosse team is on the attack. After going 7-7 last season, the Pride is preparing to be a factor again in the Colonial Athletic Association. The key ingredients appear in place, starting with the offense.
Seniors Torin Varn and Lance Yapor and sophomore Sam Llinares totaled 59 goals and 81 points last season. "The attack is back intact. I like the dynamic of it," coach Seth Tierney said. "Two guys that are seniors that are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. They want to leave this place better than they found it. And that's always a factor you don't have to coach; they know this is the last time around. And then a sophomore that had a pretty successful year and understands what it's like to go through a Division I season."
Latest college sports stories
Add to those three, Tierney said, "a bunch of freshman attackmen [Brandyn O'Connell, Brier Davis, Seth Miller] that we didn't have last year that are pushing those guys. When you can create competition and not relax as a starter, knowing that he's right there, you have to bring it every day."
Tierney, who guided Hofstra to four straight NCAA postseason appearances from 2008-2011, was given a multiyear extension during the offseason. "I'm glad and honored to continue to be the head coach here," he said. "I really like the focus of the team. I like the approach from Day One."
Hofstra lost four games by one goal last season. "I don't think you ever put it away. It's part of your book, part of your program," Tierney said. "Being 7-7, are we four faceoffs from being 11-3? What's it going to take to win those four faceoffs in the fourth quarter? What's it going to take to get those one- goal games to lean your way? That's what we are in the process of figuring out."
Varn added, "I think we learned we need to finish games better. In the meantime, it's a new year. I can't wait to start a new season. Right now I'm just trying to make everybody around me better lacrosse players, too. We have to have a winning season this year. No individuals. We have to do it as a team and keep our focus in sight.''
Senior midfielder Mike Malave (11 goals, three assists) and Drew Coholan (12, seven) add scoring punch. Long-stick midfielder Ryan Rielly had 37 ground balls. Korey Hendrickson and Brian von Bargen will help out.
Faceoffs, such a critical part of the game, became an issue in the fourth quarter of several games last season. Tierney thinks he has the solution in Kris Clarke and junior returnee Connor Horl. The defense, anchored by Corey Caputo, features the return of goalie Chris Selva (.602 save percentage).
"He could be one of the biggest competitors I've ever coached," Tierney said. "He's an exciting player to watch. He likes getting the ball back into play, starting fast breaks. He embraces the role of being a Division I goalie."
The short-stick defensive midfielders return intact with Anthony Zappone, Steve Romano and John Reicherter.
Selva and his teammates didn't take much time off. "Over the summer, we worked out," he said. "We tried to get bigger, stronger and faster as a team and tried to improve on the things we learned last year."
There's one more incentive: In May, Hofstra will host the NCAA quarterfinals. "We will be comfortable talking about it the week leading up to that game if we're in it," Tierney said. "Nobody wants to see us in it more than us and our school, and we want to be there . . . There's literally no need to talk about it until they announce who's going to be playing in that game."