The sticks and helmets went flying, and the Drexel Dragons merged into a happy pile at one end of Hofstra’s home turf. Seth Tierney made his downcast group of Pride players view the joy for a while.
"I told them that we’re going to watch them celebrate, because it’s medicine," the coach said after second-seeded Drexel claimed first prize Saturday at Shuart Stadium, beating fourth-seeded Hofstra, 15-11, in the CAA men’s lacrosse championship game, and taking the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
"Medicine stinks to take, but one day down the line, that medicine helps. To see them celebrate on our field, we needed to take that."
The Pride wanted to take the conference championship game for the first time since 2008 and grab the bid for the program’s first NCAA Tournament trip since 2011.
And then the Dragons (10-2) dropped them in a nine-goal hole before the midpoint of the second quarter. Hofstra (8-6) climbed to three goals back late in the game. But it finished one win short.
"Devastated," Tierney said. "Devastated that myself, the staff, the players, won’t be able to represent Hofstra in the NCAA Tournament. … Getting to the championship game, certainly a consolation prize."
This marked his last game coaching the greatest goal and point producer in the history of the program and the CAA — his son, Ryan Tierney.
The fifth-year senior attackman from Massapequa contributed two goals and two assists. The first goal, incredibly scored while on his back from about 10 yards out, gave him sole possession of the CAA’s career goal-scoring record that he shared with Delaware alum Curtis Dickson. Tierney finished with 164 goals.
"What it was like to coach Ryan for five years, to describe it to you: How do you hit Lotto five years in a row?" Seth Tierney said. "Because that’s what it was like."
After Most Outstanding Player Reid Bowering closed from the right side and delivered his fifth goal to make it 14-9 with 6:09 left, Ryan Tierney fed Sam Lutfi for a man-up goal. Then Ryan Sheridan fed James Philbin — 14-11, 1:13 on the clock.
Aidan Coll countered with 25.9 seconds showing, and that was it.
But it was that close after the Pride trailed 7-1 after the first quarter, 10-1 in the second quarter and 10-2 at the break.
Sheridan found the net three times in the third. It was 12-7 Drexel heading for the fourth.
"The end is always rough," Seth Tierney said. "… To be down eight goals at halftime, that one is not in the manual on how you get yourself out of that one."