Time did not heal the wounded Pride. Hofstra’s crushing loss to Drexel last Saturday, in which it blew a five-goal fourth-quarter lead, festered. “When you go 10-0 and then suffer a loss the way we did in the last 15 minutes, it stays with you,” Hofstra coach Seth Tierney said. “There was a hangover all week. There was a weight on their shoulders.”
The only antidote, the ultimate painkiller, was delivered in doses of goals yesterday as the Pride clinched a CAA Tournament berth by pounding Massachusetts, 15-8, in a league game played at drizzly Shuart Stadium.
“Any time you lose the way we did, you’re ticked off, you’re frustrated,” said senior attack Josh Byrne, who scored five goals with three assists as No. 10 Hofstra improved to 11-1, 3-1 in the CAA.
“We didn’t want that feeling, ever again,” said junior midfielder Dylan Alderman, who scored a career-high four goals plus an assist.
The Pride was especially potent in the first half, scoring seven unanswered goals and building a 10-3 halftime lead. “Playing with a lead is a talent,” Tierney said. “It’s not always easy to do. Which pedal do you hit and when do you hit it?”
Hofstra learned the hard way last Saturday about shifting into cruise control too early. So when UMass (5-7) scored three consecutive goals to make it 10-5 with 9:33 left in the third quarter, the Pride knew there was still work to be done.
Alderman found Alex Moeser in the slot with 4:04 left in the third and then scored an unassisted goal less than a minute later to provide a 12-5 lead and some much-needed breathing room. “My teammates drew so much attention that I’d get a short stick on me, I’d dodge and no one came to me because they were concerned about the other guys,” Alderman said of Byrne, Brendan Kavanagh (three goals) and Ryan Tierney (one goal, two assists).
Byrne, who transferred to Hofstra from Nassau CC before his junior year, surpassed 100 career points in his second Division I season. He has 104 points, including 35 goals and 24 assists this season, ranking in the top 10 nationally in both categories. His mother, stepfather and brother traveled from their home in British Columbia to take part in Hofstra’s Senior Day festivities. “My family means so much to me. It was a special moment to see them here,” said an emotional Byrne.
Tierney joked, “I’m upset with him because he wasn’t here for four years. I am looking forward to being his friend soon, but right now I’m his coach. We’ve been through a lot. We’ve had some tough times together. We’ve been upset with each other at times. For him to have more than 100 points in two years is an unbelievable feat.”
Hofstra concludes its regular season with a huge game at Towson next Saturday, with possible home-field advantage for the CAA Tournament on May 4th and 6th at stake, depending on tiebreakers.
“We’ll go down there and push the pile,” Tierney said of his team, which now carries a much lighter burden.