An impressive onslaught from a trio of Hofstra attackers proved to be the deciding factor in the Hofstra men’s lacrosse team’s season-opening 11-9 victory over Monmouth University on a beautiful Saturday afternoon at James M. Shuart Stadium.
“I’m really happy for our guys,” said Hofstra head coach Seth Tierney after the win. “We had a couple guys out, injury-wise, and we had some guys really step up.”
Despite ultimately being outshot by the Hawks, the Pride was able to use its offensive possessions much more effectively than Monmouth, scoring 11 goals on 16 shots on goal.
Nine of the Pride’s 11 goals came courtesy of three hat tricks from three different players. Two of the hat tricks came from veterans Josh Byrne and Brendan Kavanagh. Byrne also added three assists, and after exploding onto the scene last season, Byrne appears to already be in midseason form for the Pride.
The other Hofstra hat trick came from freshman Ryan Tierney. If that name sounds familiar to the Hofstra faithful, it may be because the freshman attacker is the son of the Pride’s very own head coach.
“The best thing Ryan has done is to take the decision out of my hands, and prove that he deserves to be a starter,” Coach Tierney said about his son’s performance.
The coach’s kid undoubtedly had a lot to prove in his collegiate debut, and Tierney wasted no time putting Monmouth on notice, beating Hawks keeper Nick Hreshko on his very first shot to give the Pride an early 1-0 advantage just a few minutes into the first quarter.
Tierney’s goal came about in part because of a forced turnover by the Hofstra defense, in what would become a common occurrence on Saturday afternoon. The back line would cause 15 Monmouth turnovers in total, with 11 of them coming in the first half, which really allowed the Pride to control the tone of the game despite losing the faceoff margin by quite a bit in the opening half.
With first-team All-CAA faceoff specialist Kris Clarke nursing an injury, the Pride’s biggest weakness all day was at the faceoff, where the Hawks won 15 times, as opposed to just six for Hofstra. Kyle Gallagher stepped up to handle the faceoff duties in Clarke’s absence.
Gallagher himself is recently back from a gruesome neck injury, so while he may not have had the success that Clarke has had in the past, just being out there at all is surely a success.
“We knew with Kris [Clarke] going down, it was going to be tough,” Coach Tierney said. “It’s been about six months to the day since Kyle [Gallagher] snapped his neck jumping into some water, so for him to be out there playing at all is a miracle.”
This gave Monmouth plenty more opportunities to control the ball, but the Pride defense remained stout all afternoon, denying chance after chance. Both the first and second quarters came to a close with the Hawks unable to get even one final shot off before the buzzer, all thanks to a stifling effort from the Pride.
Running the show from the back line was Hofstra goalie Jack Concannon. Fresh off a breakout season last year, Concannon hardly showed any signs of rust on Saturday, making 11 saves, including a nifty one on a point-blank shot from Monmouth’s Griffin Figel as the Hawks threatened to make a run in the game’s final minutes.
While it never really looked as if the Pride was in any danger of coughing up the lead, the resilient Monmouth squad refused to quit.
Down 11-5 heading into the final quarter, the Hawks began to chip away, while the Pride got a little sloppy, turning the ball over five times in the final quarter.
“I didn’t like the way we finished, but we played well enough in the first half to buy ourselves some insurance,” Coach Tierney said.
Monmouth rattled off four unanswered goals to cut Hofstra’s lead to 11-9, but time simply wasn’t on its side, as one final Concannon save was enough to put Hofstra’s opening-day victory on ice.
Next up for the Pride will be a trip to New Jersey to take on Princeton University on Saturday, Feb. 25 at 1 p.m.
The Tigers, a perennial lacrosse power, came to Hempstead last year and were sent packing with a 11-10 overtime loss at the hands of the Pride.