Hofstra’s men’s lacrosse team heard the whispers. Utah, a first-year program, was coming to town and that could only mean good things. An early season cross-country flight by a team in its infancy seemed like a recipe for feasting. But, Hofstra – who, with 19 players lost (16 to graduation), is a pretty young unit themselves – wasn’t buying it.
“[This game] was a bear to prepare for,” Hofstra head coach Seth Tierney said. “…They’re a first year program, but throw that out the window. They have players that transferred in, a USA Lacrosse staff on their sidelines and, for their kids, it’s the super bowl every game.”
The Pride, faced with a feisty opponent, built up enough breathing room in the second half to avoid an upset and defeated the upstart Utes, 14-10 Saturday afternoon in their home opener at Shuart Stadium.
“I’m proud because it’s not easy to play a game where the media and social media says you should win,” Seth Tierney said.
Ryan Tierney led Hofstra with four goals and an assist. Dylan McIntosh added three goals. Robert Casey made 11 saves and Brian Herber won 18-of-25 faceoffs and scored a goal.
“…Off the faceoffs, [Utah] sent out a pole right from the get-go,” Seth Tierney said. “That just said, ‘we want to muck up the faceoffs and make it muddy’. So, we had to earn to every ground ball. That was awesome for us.”
The 14 goals were ten more then Hofstra scored in their season-opening win against Lehigh last weekend.
“We were just shooting to shoot,” Ryan Tierney said. “We weren’t aiming anymore. We were trying to hit net and not trying to hit the corners. I think our offensive played more as a group.”
“I’m pretty sure I got most of my goals in transition or in the last 20 seconds of the shot clock,” he said. “We did a really good job working the ball around, not necessarily getting the first look, but waiting to see what we could get later on.”
Hofstra (2-0) outscored Utah 7-4 in the second half, building a 10-7 lead after three quarters and never relinquishing it.
The Pride was offensively dominant for stretches early in the game, but let Utah (1-2) hang around for most of the first quarter and a half. The Utes, perhaps smelling blood, started to create more offensive chances late in the second quarter and took a 6-5 lead on Josh Stout’s goal with 1:17 left in the first half.
But, the Pride quickly awoke. Riley Forte’s man-up goal with 15 seconds remaining before halftime tied the score at 6 and Mark Ellis, diving towards the ground, put Hofstra ahead 7-6 with 6.1 seconds left.
“That changed the script a little bit at halftime,” Seth Tierney said. “We needed to figure out where we could steal some energy.”
Hofstra scored the first three goals of the third quarter to take a 10-6 lead.
Stout is clearly Utah’s biggest threat offensively. He scored five goals in the first half to send his three- game total to 15. But the Pride adjusted and held Stout scoreless in the second half.
“[Assistant coach John] Gorman changed the way we were playing picks and we did a little something different,” Seth Tierney said. “I think the anger and energy also took over a little bit and we settled in. (Stout) is a heck of a player. . . He’s got a will to get to the goal. I had a chance to work with [Utah assistant coach] Marcus Holman over the summer. He’s got a great mind for the game and they do a lot of creative things to get [Stout’s] hands free.”