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.

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