For the Hofstra men’s lacrosse team to reach its first Final Four in program history the Pride will need to start by doing something it has never done before; win at Homewood Field.
After a stressful few days following Hofstra’s 10-9 Colonial Athletic Association semifinal loss to Delaware last Wednesday finding out if they would receive an at-large bid to the 16-team NCAA Tournament, the Pride (13-2) drew third-seed Johns Hopkins when the selections were announced Sunday night. Hofstra has had some recent success with Johns Hopkins winning three of its last six meetings but has never won at the Blue Jays' home field in Baltimore. One of those losses at Johns Hopkins was a 10-4 setback in the first round of the 2008 NCAA Tournament when key Hofstra seniors such as Jay Card, Mike Skudin and Steven DeNapoli were freshmen.
“It’s less about the field and more about the tradition and what Hopkins has done in the past,” said Hofstra men’s lacrosse head coach Seth Tierney of the challenge opposing teams face at Homewood Field. “They have a lot of great traditions there.”
Tierney played at Johns Hopkins and served as an assistant coach at his alma mater from 2001-2006. He is also a former teammate of Johns Hopkins head coach Dave Pietramala, who decided this past summer to drop Hofstra from its schedule after the two teams had met 19 out of 20 years from 1991-2010.
Johns Hopkins (12-2) has been on a tear of late winning seven straight games. The Blue Jays have a balanced offense and is anchored defensively by sophomore goalie Pierce Bassett, who ranks among the national leaders with a 6.70 goals against average and a .586 save percentage. Hopkins also boasts the number one faceoff specialist in the nation with Matt Dolente winning 67 percent of his draws. Hofstra sophomore John Antoniades is the third highest rated faceoff man in the nation at 66 percent.
“They are a very, very talented lacrosse team and we need to come up with a game plan, follow that game plan and play our hearts out,” said Tierney.
Hofstra is making its fourth straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament; the first time that feat has been accomplished in program history.
The Hofstra-Johns Hopkins game is scheduled for Noon Saturday on ESPN2. If Hofstra wins it will have a chance to return to its home field for a chance to reach the program’s first ever-Final Four the next Saturday when Shuart Stadium plays host to the NCAA Quarterfinals. Before that can happen the Pride will first have to make history at Johns Hopkins.