One of the most anticipated match ups of the season, the Hofstra Pride will play host to CAA-opponent University of Massachusetts Minutemen at James M. Shuart Stadium at noon on Saturday. Both teams are looking to get their seasons back on track after suffering a dismal start, with Hofstra losing four out of its first five games and UMass opening the season with a five-game losing streak. Only one win separates these teams from similar records, and a win to open CAA-play would be key. Of course, each team will have their own keys to victory.
For the Pride to win on Saturday, their focus will need to be on three keys: attack their goalies, win over half the face-offs, and use home field to their advantage. Over the course of the season, the Minutemen goalies have struggled, saving less than fifty percent of the shots they faced. With junior attacker Sam Llinares, who has been named CAA Player of the Week twice this season, and senior midfielder Mike Malave, who has been named a candidate for the 2015 Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School (CLASS) Award, leading the Pride in goals with twenty-two for Llinares and nineteen for Malave, if the Pride can exploit this weakness, it will be an easy victory for them.
It’s simple logic when it comes to face-offs: the team who controls the face-offs usually controls the game. Sophomore Kris Clarke has been instrumental in winning the face-offs for the Pride, winning nearly 65% of them in the season. Most impressively, despite the Pride losing against Ohio State, he won 12 of the 21 face-offs against Christopher May, who has been named Big Ten Specialist of the Week several times this year. The face-offs will be key in the game, and if Hofstra wants to win, they’ll need Kris Clarke to perform like he has been this season.
The old cliche in sports is the team at home usually has the advantage. No more is the true than in this game. The Pride love playing at James M. Shuart Stadium, and Hofstra fans are crazy for their lacrosse. The Pride at currently 3-1 at home on the season, 2-0 in the last two games. If the Pride want to win this game, they will need to excel at these keys to victory.
The Minutemen will have different keys to win than their opponents: ignore the home field advantage, score 9-plus goals, and use the duo of Nick Mariano and Peter Lindley effectively. UMass has struggled on the road this year, going 0-3, and trying to win a game at Shuart Stadium is no easy task. If they’re gonna pull out the victory, the Minutemen will have to silence the Hofstra crowd early.
Hofstra has had its own struggles this season as well, going 0-4 when allowing opponents to score 9-plus goals in a game. This, however, will be no easy task either, as the Pride haven’t allowed an opponent to score nine goals or more since Ohio State, which was two weeks ago. The Pride defense has steadily improved, but the Minutemen can set the defense back if they can accomplish this key to the win.
Sophomore attacker Nick Mariano and freshmen attacker Peter Lindley have provided the offense fire power for UMass. Mariano has contributed fifteen goals and eleven assists on the season for the Minutemen. Lindley has provided fourteen goals and six assists on the season for UMass. Lindley was also named the CAA and Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Rookie of the Week for this past week. If the Minutemen can capitalize on these keys to victory, they will spoil Hofstra’s momentum and open CAA-play with a win.