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.”
Expectations are sky high for Hofstra after making the NCAA Tournament for the third straight season last year before losing a hard-fought battle to Maryland 11-8 in the first round. The Pride returns eight starters including 10 of their top 11 scorers from a year ago. The Pride also adds midfielder Steve Serling, who was the Patriot League Player of the Year out of Lafayette last year, and is enrolled as a graduate student at Hofstra for his final year of college eligibility.
While Hofstra earned at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year in 2010 there is still a sting from the fact that the Pride failed to qualify for the four-team CAA playoffs after dropping three close road games to UMass, Drexel and Penn State. “We are certainly upset that we were not involved in [the CAA Tournament] last year,” said Tierney. “We are going to be a little more focused on that this year. I’m hopeful that they understand that they have to bring it every game and we cannot take a day off at all.”
Much of Hofstra’s starting lineup is set but Tierney said some of the midfield spots are still up for grabs heading into the first scrimmages this weekend against Le Moyne and Syracuse. One position that is set is at goalie where junior Andrew Gvozden has already been named the starter after battling hard for playing time last season with Rob Bellairs.
“We took the burden of [Gvozden] having to try out every day after the way he played versus Maryland and a couple games last year and certainly the way he has worked and prepared himself for the fall,” said Tierney.
Tierney said his expectations for the first scrimmages this weekend are to see his team develop solid chemistry and learn what needs to be improved prior to the start of the regular season. “We’re looking for a good film of great effort and hopefully just figure out what we need to get better on to go toward the next scrimmage and then tweak everything up for the first game,” he said.
Hofstra opens the 2011 season at home against Colgate on Feb. 15 at 4 p.m.