Hofstra faceoff specialist a major "X factor" to Pride men's lacrosse 3-0 start

Courtesy Hofstra Athletic Communications
Faceoffs are a crucial part of the sport of lacrosse and the dominance displayed in the X early this season by sophomore John Antoniades is a major reason why Hofstra is off to a 3-0 start and on the cusp of being ranked among the top five teams in the nation.

Antoniades has won 69 percent (31-45) of his face-offs in the Pride’s first three games including going 16-22 during an 11-9 win over eighth-ranked Princeton yesterday afternoon. The 5’9 165 pound sophomore midfielder was especially clutch in the first quarter against Princeton game when he won 8 of 9 faceoffs to keep the Pride in the game after falling behind 5-2.

“John is a warrior,” said Hofstra men’s lacrosse head coach Seth Tierney in the post game press conference following the seventh-ranked Pride's huge victory over Princeton. “He will do whatever it takes to get the ball.”

Antoniades has become a formidable faceoff specialist early in his sophomore campaign despite missing the entire pre-season with an injury. As a freshman last year he was thrust into the spotlight in the Pride’s season opening game at Princeton when senior Mike Vaccaro tore his ACL, and he proceeded to win 55 percent (180-329) in the faceoff X and was second on the team in ground balls with 47. The Hauppauge, N.Y. native won 83 percent of his faceoffs as a senior at St. Anthony’s High School and then spent one year playing at Loomis Chaffee Prep School in Windsor, Conn. before arriving at Hofstra.

Antoniades, who made the Colonial Athletic Association All-Rookie team as a freshman, said the competition he faces everyday in practice from other capable faceoff specialists has made a huge difference in his sophomore progression. Other faceoff specialists Hofstra can deploy in addition to Antoniades include Quinnipiac transfer Zachary Pall, who was 58 percent from the X last year, Cullen Cassidy and Vaccaro.

“We have four or five guys that can all come in everyday, every game and do a great job,” said Antoniades, who was also recruited by Army, Navy and Virginia. “Going at it everyday with all the faceoff guys on the team just really helps me be prepared for games.”

Antoniades will try and continue his hot play to the season this Saturday when Hofstra hosts Harvard with a 1 p.m. first faceoff.


Hofstra men's lacrosse vs. Princeton in-game blog

The seventh-ranked Hofstra men’s lacrosse team will take on eighth-ranked Princeton Saturday in a game that could have major postseason implications come May.

Princeton is the highest pre-season ranked team on the Pride’s schedule and a win over the Tigers Saturday would create a solid resume for Hofstra when NCAA Tournament selections and seedings are determined in May. Hofstra (2-0) enters Saturday’s game coming off wins over Colgate and Sacred Heart. It will be the opening game for Princeton, who returns six starters from last year’s Ivy League title team that fell to Notre Dame in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Hofstra leads the all-time series with Princeton 12-11. In last year’s meeting the Tigers won an offensive shootout 17-14. The last time Hofstra and Princeton met at Shuart Stadium the Pride came away with a 9-7 upset of the then third-ranked Tigers.

Check in with "Inside the Pride" for live updates of the Hofstra men’s lacrosse team’s quest to earn a key signature win early in the season 15 minutes before faceoff Saturday at 11:15 a.m. Comments and questions are also welcome and encouraged during the live in-game blog.


Hofstra women's basketball vs. George Mason in-game blog

No matter what the sport a Hofstra-George Mason game is always intense and on Thursday afternoon the Pride women’s basketball team faces the rival Patriots in a key Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) tilt.

Hofstra (15-11, 7-8 in the CAA) is coming off a heartbreaking 79-77 loss to Old Dominion Sunday. The Pride come into Thursday’s matinee one game ahead of the Patriots (12-14, 6-9 in the CAA) for sixth place in the conference standings. In the team’s first meeting this season in Fairfax, Va., George Mason came away with a 76-70 win on Super Bowl Sunday.

Check in with "Inside the Pride" for live updates of the Hofstra- George Mason game 15 minutes before tip-off Thursday at 1:45 p.m. Comments and questions are also welcome and encouraged during the live in-game blog.


Jackie Pandolf stepping up to the cage as Hofstra women's lacrosse starting goalie

Courtesy Hofstra Athletic Communications
The healthy competition Hofstra women’s lacrosse goalie Jackie Pandolf faced for playing time last year with senior Mary Cuddidy is paying major dividends so far in 2011 for the junior netminder.

Pandolf stepped up huge for the Pride in Sunday’s dramatic 11-10 overtime win at Oregon with a career high 13 saves including two key stops in the extra session. The Sachem North High School product was also stellar in Hofstra’s season-opening 14-9 loss to 19th-ranked Boston College with 11 saves on 39 shots along with recording a team-high six ground balls.

After sharing playing time last year with Cuddihy, Hofstra women’s lacrosse head coach Abby Morgan was impressed with how Pandolf worked extra hard in the offseason to improve all facets of her play including clears and being a more vocal leader on defense. “Pandolf has fortified herself as a starter,” said Morgan just prior to the start of the 2011 season. “She really solidified her game.”

Last season while Cuddihy started 12 of the Pride’s 15 games, Pandolf still received plenty of time in the cage and posted a 8.26 goals against average with 56 saves. The Holbrook, N.Y. native also received solid preparation for her current starting role as a freshman in 2009 when she recorded 16 saves in 10 games.

Pandolf will try and continue her hot play to open the 2011 season when the Pride next take the field at home against Denver on Friday at 4 p.m.

Hofstra wrestling vs. Army in-match blog

The Hofstra wrestling team hits the mats for the final time at home Tuesday evening against Army.

The Pride enter the Army match winners of nine of 10 including a 33-11 triumph at Princeton on Saturday to improve to 13-4-1 on the season. Army (7-8) is coming off a 24-9 loss to arch rival Navy this past Saturday.

Tuesday’s match against Army is a makeup from a Jan. 26 contest that was postponed because of snow. It will mark the final home match for Hofstra senior grapplers Lou Ruggirello, Ryan Patrovich and Jeff Rotella.

Check in with "Inside the Pride" for live updates of the Hofstra-Rider match 15 minutes before the first bout Wednesday at 6:45 p.m. Comments and questions are also welcome and encouraged during the live in-match blog.


Hofstra women's basketball vs. Old Dominion in-game blog

The Hofstra women’s basketball team kicks off a three-game homestand Sunday afternoon against longtime Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) power Old Dominion.

Old Dominion enters Sunday’s game at 17-8 and 11-3 in the CAA. Hofstra is 15-10 overall and 7-7 in the conference.

There should be a large crowd on hand at the Mack Sports Complex Sunday thanks to the Hofstra-Old Dominion game serving as the Pride’s annual “Pink Zone” contest as well as Girl Scout Day. Everyone in attendance is asked to wear pink to help raise awareness for breast cancer.

Check in with "Inside the Pride" for live updates of the Hofstra-Old Dominion game 15 minutes before tip-off Sunday at 12:45 p.m. Comments and questions are also welcome and encouraged during the live in-game blog.


Hofstra wrestling vs. Rider in-match blog

The 23rd-ranked Hofstra wrestling team will hit the mats with conference rival Rider Wednesday night in a match that could decide the seedlings for next month’s Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Championships.

Hofstra (11-4-1, 4-1 in CAA) has won seven of eight matches and is coming off a 39-8 win at Harvard this past Saturday. Rider arrives on Long Island at 8-10 and 2-2 in the CAA.

The Hofstra-Rider match will help decide many of the seedlings in the CAA Championships scheduled for March 4 and 5. Six of the 10 weight classes for Wednesday’s match will feature the number one and two ranked wrestlers going head to head. The headliner bout will be at 174 pounds between number one conference-ranked Ryan Patrovich against number two-ranked
Rob Morrison of Rider.

Check in with "Inside the Pride" for live updates of the Hofstra-Rider match 15 minutes before the first bout Wednesday at 6:45 p.m. Comments and questions are also welcome and encouraged during the live in-match blog.


Hofstra women's lacrosse vs. Boston College in-game blog

The 20th-ranked Hofstra women’s lacrosse team opens a challenging 2011 schedule in its season opener late Wednesday afternoon against 19th-ranked Boston College.

Wednesday’s opener with the Eagles is one of 10 games Hofstra has scheduled this season against teams either ranked or receiving votes in the preseason top 20 poll.

The Pride lost six of its top nine scorers, including two-time All-American Corrine Gandolfi, from last year’s team that went 12-6 and fell in the Colonial Athletic Association title game to James Madison. Hofstra still returns plenty of senior talent however on the defensive end led by Kate Hertsch, who was selected to play on the U.S. Senior National Team, and on offense with Stephanie Rice, who scored 23 goals last year. Sophomore midfielder Jill Maier also showed she has the capability to be an offensive force scoring 22 goals during her freshman campaign.

Wednesday’s opener against Boston College will be Hofstra’s first against the Eagles since suffering an 8-7 double overtime loss in 2005. Boston College finished last year 3-12 but is expected to be much stronger in 2011 as evidenced by their preseason ranking of 19.

Check in with "Inside the Pride" for live updates of the Hofstra women’s lacrosse season opener 15 minutes before the first draw Wednesday at 3:45 p.m. Comments and questions are also welcome and encouraged during the live in-game blog.

Hofstra men's lacrosse vs. Colgate in-game blog

The ninth-ranked Hofstra men’s lacrosse team opens its 2011 campaign late Tuesday afternoon against Colgate in what will be the earliest start to a season in program history.

The Pride return 31 players, including eight starters, from last year's 9-5 team that reached the NCAA Tournament for the third straight year. Among the returning starters are all three starting attackman in the Canadian duo of Jay Card and Jaime Lincoln along with Stephen Bentz, who all earned All-Colonial Athletic Association accolade in 2010. The Pride also boast a very deep midfield led by graduate student Steve Serling, who comes to Hofstra after a standout career at Lafayette College where he was Patriot League's Offensive Player of the Year last season. Hofstra also boasts a veteran defensive unit led by senior captains Steven DeNapoli and Mike Skudin that should provide plenty of support for junior goalie Andrew Gvozden.

Colgate, which is coming off a 3-10 season last year, was picked to finish fourth in the Patriot League behind Army, Navy and Bucknell. Tuesday's matinee against the Red Raiders will be just the third overall between Hofstra and Colgate and the first in 50 years.

Check in with "Inside the Pride" for live updates of the Hofstra men’s lacrosse season opener 15 minutes before faceoff Tuesday at 3:45 p.m. Comments and questions are also welcome and encouraged during the live in-game blog.


Hofstra women's lacrosse uses last year's disappointment as fuel for 2011 season

 Courtesy Hofstra Athletic Communications
As the Hofstra women’s lacrosse teams gears up for a new season, last year's disappointment of several close losses to ranked teams that all made the NCAA Tournament, which the Pride missed out on, still lingers and is serving as a key motivator for the 2011 campaign.

The 2010 NCAA Tournament bracket is plastered on the Pride’a locker room as a reminder of the team’s ultimate goal. Circled on the paper are all the tournament teams Hofstra lost close games to including (Penn, Notre Dame, Stanford and Towson). Hofstra finished 2010 12-6 with a 10-6 loss to James Madison in the Colonial Athletic Association title game and head coach Abby Morgan believes a win in any of the Pride’ many heart-breaking losses to ranked teams could have made the difference in her team reaching the NCAA Tournament as an at-large selection.

“They don’t forget it,” said Morgan, whose team returns four starters and is ranked 20th to open the season “We talk about it giving us fuel.”

Hofstra will have plenty of opportunities register signature wins against quality teams starting with this Wednesday’s opener against 19th ranked Boston College. In all Hofstra has 10 games scheduled against teams either ranked or receiving votes in the preseason top 20 poll including home contests versus Notre Dame, Penn, James Madison and Towson. 


Shemiye McLendon has clutch touch for Hofstra men's basketball

 Courtesy Hofstra Athletic Communications
Hofstra men’s basketball freshman guard Shemiye McLendon has turned into quite the clutch player early in his collegiate career.
The Vero Beach, Fla. native played a crucial role in Saturday’s 78-75 comeback win over Northeastern in which the Pride scored the game’s final 10 points. McLendon calmly hit two free throws to put Hofstra up 76-76 with 1:56 left. The Vero Beach Academy graduate then helped the Pride seal the huge Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) victory when he connected on two additional free throws with six seconds left to give the Pride a 78-75 lead.
McLendon's clutch performance at the end of the Northeastern game was the fourth time he had knocked down pivotal free throws down the stretch to help the Pride win key conference games. In a 75-69 win at Drexel on Jan. 3 McLendon hit two free throws with 1:55 left to gave the Pride the lead to stay and on Jan. 22 the freshman guard connected on two foul shots with less than two seconds left to put Hofstra ahead by three in a victory at William & Mary on Jan. 22. On Jan. 24 in a dramatic 92-90 overtime win against James Madison, McLendon sank two foul shots with 17.2 seconds remaining in regulation to send the game to the extra session.


Hofstra men's basketball vs. Northeastern in-game blog

The Hofstra men’s basketball team will look to snap a three-game losing streak in a pivotal Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) game against Notheastern.

Despite dropping its last three games, Hofstra (14-9, 8-4 in CAA) is still very much in the mix to finish in the top four in the league in order to receive a crucial first round bye in the conference tournament next month. The Pride enter Saturday’s game in fourth place in the CAA one game up on James Madison and Drexel. Northeastern began the season 4-15 but has won four in a row including a shocking upset over first place Virginia Commonwealth on Thursday.

Check in with "Inside the Pride" for live updates of the Hofstra-Northeastern game 15 minutes before tip-off Saturday at 3:45 p.m. Comments and questions are also welcome and encouraged during the live in-match blog.

Hofstra wrestling vs. Cornell in-match blog

The Hofstra wresting team will have the rare chance to knock off the number one team in the nation when it hits the mats with top-ranked Cornell Saturday afternoon in the Physical Education Building.

Saturday’s match against number-one ranked Cornell (7-1) will be the Hofstra’s first against the nation’s top team since November of 2006 when the Pride knocked off number-one ranked Minnesota at the Northeast Duals. Hofstra (9-3-1, 4-1 in Colonial Athletic Association) comes into Saturday’s bout winners of five dual matches in a row and has six wrestlers in the nation’s top 25 led by fourth ranked Lou Ruggirello at 133 pounds.

Check in with "Inside the Pride" for live updates of the Hofstra’s attempt to knock off its second top-ranked team in program history 15 minutes before the first match Saturday at 12:45 p.m. Comments and questions are also welcome and encouraged during the live in-match blog.


Hofstra men's lacrosse gearing up for Spring success in height of winter

In the two weeks since the Hofstra men’s lacrosse team began preseason practice on Jan. 20, the Shuart Stadium turf has been ice cold amidst the frigid winter temperatures that have hit the northeast. The Pride are hard at work preparing for the 2011 season that head coach Seth Tierney hopes will see Hofstra playing in a much warmer climate on May 21 at Shuart Stadium in the NCAA Quarterfinals.

While the long term goal is to see Hofstra men’s lacrosse playing in front of the home fans for a chance to reach the program’s first Final Four, Coach Tierney is not looking that far ahead as his team gears up for the 2011 season in the height of winter. “What takes place in April and May are way back of the burner of the stove deep in the kitchen,” said Tierney. “We can’t just say we want to play in the quarterfinal game. We would sign up for that right now if that was the case but you’ve got to go out and you’ve got to earn it.”