It’s time for the Pride’s skills to be put to the test.
The Hofstra Pride men’s lacrosse team squares off against UMass on Thursday in the first game of the Colonial Athletic Association conference tournament. The 11-2 Pride fell to Towson last weekend 10-8, making Hofstra the second seed in this year’s championship.
Hofstra is seeking its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2011. After starting the year at a program-best 10-0, the Pride lost two of its last three games to close out the season, leaving Hofstra’s national at-large bid prospects in question.
The Pride schedule features strong wins over reigning national champion North Carolina as well as solid victories over Princeton, Providence and Stony Brook. Hofstra should be in the conversation for an at-large bid — a rarity in the CAA since Penn State departed the conference. The Pride would likely need to win at least one game in the upcoming weekend to feel safe about making the national tournament.
Hofstra’s first opponent is a UMass squad that the Pride routed 15-8 just two weeks ago. Hofstra had no problem getting past Minutemen goalkeepers D.J. Smith and Sean Sconone, scoring 15 goals while the pair of net minders saved just 10 shots. Josh Byrne had five goals in the game.
If Hofstra gets past UMass, it would have to face either Towson or Drexel — the only two teams who have posted wins against the blue and gold all season.
Hofstra will also have to win on Towson’s home turf. Last week the Pride struggled in Maryland. If the 90-degree heat was a factor in that game, it shouldn’t be an issue this time around since the forecast for the weekend is significantly cooler.
Byrne and Ryan Tierney are key players on offense for Hofstra. The two star attackers only had one goal each in the loss to Towson, while Byrne went 1-for-11 in the loss to Drexel. Other players are capable of stepping up offensively for the Pride such as Dylan Alderman, Brendan Kavanagh, Jimmy Yanes and Alex Moeser. They lead an attack that ranks first in the conference and 12th in the country in adjusted offense.
Tewaaraton Watch List finalist and junior goalkeeper Jack Concannon will be vital for the Pride too. The losses to Drexel and Towson were two of just three games this season in which Concannon allowed more goals than he saved. Outside of those games, Concannon has been a major reason for the Pride’s seven wins decided by two goals or fewer.
If you ask Hofstra head coach Seth Tierney, it all begins with the UMass game on Friday. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m. in Maryland, where we’ll find out if the Pride has what it takes to make its long-awaited return to the NCAA tournament.