Like most players who wield a long stick, Ryan Rielly loves to shoot the ball when an opportunity arises. "They like to get their names in the paper," Hofstra coach Seth Tierney said jokingly.
Consider it done, coach.
Rielly, the former Glenn football and lacrosse star, scored two important goals to help Hofstra rally for an 8-6 victory over Delaware Wednesday night in a CAA men's lacrosse semifinal played in a soaking downpour at Shuart Stadium.
"He almost had a hat trick. Would've needed to get him a new helmet," Tierney said.
Instead, No. 13 Hofstra (11-4) gets to suit up for Saturday's CAA championship game at 3 p.m. at Shuart Stadium against the winner of today's Towson-Drexel game. An automatic NCAA Tournament bid is at stake.
It didn't come easy.
Delaware (7-9) led 4-2 at halftime. "That first half was rough. It wasn't for lack of effort; it was lack of execution," Tierney said. "We had to crack their zone."
The first player to do that was an unlikely one, as Rielly, a defensive-minded long-stick midfielder who had scored in transition in the first half, got another opportunity. "It was weird. No one picked me up," Rielly said. "I've never been that close to the net. I got happy."
So did the Pride.
Rielly's goal, 16 seconds after halftime, sparked a five-goal third period and a 7-5 lead entering the fourth. Sam Llinares (Hauppauge) had one of Hofstra's third-period goals and when Delaware cut it to 7-6 with 11:22 left in the fourth, Llinares scored the game's final goal, on a tough angle shot, with 8:50 left.
"I just tried to be aggressive. I didn't really pick a spot, I just shot it," Llinares said. "It was bad out there."
But Hofstra was good enough, aided by a superb night on faceoffs by Kris Clarke (Chaminade), who won 14 of 18.
"He did a great job," Tierney said. "He's a freshman playing in his first playoff game. Who knows what's going through his mind?"
Rielly said the wet conditions did not clutter his mind.
"I like when it's raining," he said with a big grin. "We like to muck things up."