The Hofstra men’s lacrosse team has concluded its fall season and is gearing up for a 2011 campaign that will be filled with lofty expectations thanks to a deep roster of several returning starters combined with the addition of experienced Division I transfers.
“This is the deepest team that we’ve had since I’ve been associated with Hofstra lacrosse both as an assistant and as a head coach,” said fifth-year Hofstra men’s lacrosse head coach Seth Tierney, who also served as an assistant coach with the program from 1995-2000.
Among the Division I transfers that worked this fall to get acclimated into the Hofstra system were midfielders Ian Braddish (North Carolina), Steve Serling (Lafayette) and faceoff specialist Zachary Pall (Quinnipiac). Tierney said the transfer who impressed the most in fall ball was Serling, who graduated from Lafayette last year but is using his fourth year of college eligibility at Hofstra as a graduate student.
“He’s got great poise, makes good decisions with the ball, is athletic and gets to the goal,” said Tierney of the 6’0 Serling, who led Lafayette in scoring last year with 37 goals and 12 assists.
Hofstra’s biggest strength going into 2011 will likely be its attack unit, which returns senior starters Jay Card, Jaime Lincoln and Stephen Bentz, who all earned All-Colonial Athletic Association accolades last year after combining for 147 points. The Hofstra defense is expected to be anchored by senior Mike Skudin, who was forced to sit out the fall season because of a wrist injury suffered in the summer. The midfield is also stacked after only losing Dan Stein to graduation.
In goal Hofstra will continue to have a battle for the starting spot between junior Andrew Gvozden and sophomore Rob Bellairs, who both started during periods of last season 9-5 team, which reached the NCAA Tournament for the third straight year. Tierney said at the moment Gvozden has the edge to start as long as he continues to work hard.
The Pride will also have depth at the faceoff x. Sophomore John Antoniades, who took the vast majority of last year’s faceoffs, returns as does red-shirt senior Mike Vaccaro, who is still recovering from an ACL injury suffered in the season opener at Princeton last year. Others who could potentially line up at the x for the Pride include Pall, who won 58% of his faceoffs for Quinnipiac last year, sophomore Cullen Cassidy and freshman James Ravaret.
Tierney pointed out several freshmen who showed promise in the fall and could make an impact in the spring, most notably attackmen Torin Varn and Lance Yapor as well as midfielder Steve DiGiovanni.
Hofstra will have five captains leading the Pride in 2011 including Steven DeNapoli, Tim Holman, Card, Skudin and Bentz. “We decided to go with more than less,” said Tierney of the high number of Hofstra players that will have a "C" on their jerseys in 2011. “We just had a better feeling about that.”
Hofstra got some game experience this fall playing Cornell and Mount St. Mary’s at the fourth Annual Nick Colleluori Classic at Ridley High School in Folsom, Pa. Hofstra opens the 2011 season on Feb. 15 at home against Colgate.