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Josh Byrne, Hofstra have stuff to get to NCAA Tournament

Josh Byrne (22) and Hofstra teammates celebrate after

Josh Byrne (22) and Hofstra teammates celebrate after a goal in a scrimmage against Hobart College at Hofstra on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017. Credit: James Escher

It was as symbolic as it was slick. During the third period of a preseason scrimmage against Hobart, Hofstra senior Josh Byrne raced down the middle in transition and found freshman Ryan Tierney at the right side of the crease. Tierney finished what Byrne started. It was not only a passing of the ball but an eventual passing of the torch.

Byrne, who led the Pride in scoring last season with 30 goals and 15 assists, netted six goals with two assists in Hof stra’s 8-6 win over Hobart on Feb. 4 and later that afternoon had three goals and four assists in a 15-4 victory over Rutgers.

Tierney, who scored twice against nationally ranked Syracuse in a scrimmage on Jan. 29, had just that one goal against Hobart but added a goal and three assists against the Scarlet Knights.

Hofstra (9-6 overall, 3-2 in the Colonial Athletic Association last year) begins its 2017 season Saturday against Monmouth, and if the Pride contends for the conference title and accompanying automatic qualifying berth for the NCAA Tournament, there will be a lot of Byrne-to-Tierney connections. And vice versa.

“Josh is a talented player,” Hofstra coach Seth Tierney said. “He had a good summer and he really focused. He was just finding his way last year, when he came from junior college. This year, he knows he’s the leader and knows he’ll face some adversity in regards to being shut off and getting special [defensive] attention from our opponents.”

That’s why Tierney’s son Ryan, a star at Massapequa High School, is such an important piece. Not only can he help this year, with his strength and scoring touch, but he’s very much a part of the program’s future.

“He’s playing well alongside Josh already,” Seth Tierney said. “He’s got a good lacrosse IQ, good hands and works hard.”

Which has made it easy for Tierney to insert his son into the starting attack unit without fear of criticism.

“I told the team right away that Ryan was going to earn everything,” the coach said. “He’s not getting any more rope than anyone else. If he doesn’t deserve to play, he won’t. Ryan knew that it had to be crystal- clear that he deserves to play, not just clear. I told him, ‘Your job is to make it crystal-clear.’ He did that and my staff agreed.”

Jimmy Yanes rounds out the top attack. Kris Clarke (Bellmore, Chaminade) is a quality faceoff specialist, winning 57 percent of his draws last season. The offensive midfield includes Dylan Alderman, Alex Moeser (hot during preseason scrimmages) and Brendan Kavanagh (Rockville Centre, Kellenberg).

Tierney said Brenden Lynch is his best short-stick defensive middie and Liam Blohm (Syosset), an Ohio State transfer, will start as a long-stick defensive middie. The defense features the experienced trio of Tanner Griffin, Michael Diener and Brett Osman (Miller Place). “I really like this unit,” Tierney said.

The coach especially likes the best part of his defense, junior goalie Jack Concannon (Lindenhurst, St. Anthony’s), a third-team preseason All-American in some polls who had a solid 8.56 goals-against average. “He was great last year and we’re looking forward to him being even better this year,” Tierney said. “He’s turned into a leader and I love what he’s about.”

Hofstra is all about trying to earn an NCAA Tournament bid for the first time since 2011. There’s an added incentive: The national quarterfinals are at Shuart Stadium.

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