The Hofstra Pride men’s lacrosse team is ready to make a statement as the new NCAA DI season begins.
2016 in Review
Last season can only be described as a roller coaster ride for the Pride. Attacker Sam Llinares was in his final year looking to bring the Pride back to the CAA tournament after missing it the previous season. The 2016 season started with a surprising upset over the fifth-ranked University of North Carolina, thanks in large part to the four-goal outbreak performance of Josh Byrne, a junior transfer from Nassau Community College. Hofstra remained hot, winning three of the next four games against quality teams like Princeton and Ohio State. The Pride reached as high as 13th in the national rankings.
From there, the season started to spiral out of control. Hofstra dropped the next two games against Stony Brook and Providence. While they did end the non-conference portion of the schedule on a two-game winning streak, one of those wins came in overtime against the University of Vermont. The Pride’s chances of getting an at-large bid was thrown out the window. Their only option to make the NCAA tournament was to win the CAA tournament.
Hofstra’s conference schedule didn’t get off to a great start, as they dropped the first game at home against the Fairfield Stags led by CAA co-player of the year Colin Burke. The Pride won the next two games against the University of Delaware and Drexel University by six goals, so it all came down to their next game against the University of Massachusetts. Byrne was struggling throughout the season, but finally broke out of his cold streak, clinching a spot in the CAA tournament with his game-winning overtime goal. They ended the regular season with a loss at home against Towson, and headed to Towson, Maryland for the CAA tournament as the third seed. The Pride were immediately sent packing, as they fell to Fairfield for the third-consecutive game.
#5 Sam Llinares, Attack – Sam Llinares was a leader in the locker room and on the field, leading the offense with his goal-scoring. While at Hofstra, he totaled 100 career goals and 77 assists. Llinares was drafted to the Denver Outlaws of Major League Lacrosse.
#21 Korey Hendrickson, Attack – In his four years at Hofstra, Hendricksn recorded 60 goals and 25 assists. His best season was 2016, in which he totaled a career-high 29 goals, good for second on the team behind Byrne. Hendrickson was drafted by the Chesapeake Bayhawks in the MLL Supplemental Draft.
#22 Brian Von Bargen, Midfield – Von Bargen ended his career on a high note. Up until last season, he struggled on offense, only totaling 15 goals and 19 points in 44 games, despite being named to the All-CAA Rookie Team in 2013. However, Von Bargen finally found his form on offense last season, scoring a career-high 26 goals and seven assists. He will join Llinares with the Outlaws via the supplemental draft.
#27 Finn Sullivan, Defense – When a Hofstra player is chosen to wear #27, it’s a special accomplishment to wear the number worn by Nick Colleluori, a former Pride who passed away after a battle with non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. To wear #27 is to represent the qualities of Nick: leadership, heart, courage, and determination. Sullivan proved he was worthy of the honor by winning the 2016 CAA Defensive Player of the Year and made his third appearance on the All-CAA First Team. Sullivan will also join the Outlaws.
#22 Josh Byrne, Attack – Byrne was a pleasant surprise in 2016. Competing against a quality opponent like UNC is tough enough, but to score four goals and do it in your first game is incredible. Byrne was a huge part of the Hofstra offense, scoring a team-leading 30 goals. Byrne will be looked at as the leader of the Pride offense, but will need to find a way to adjust to more pressure.
#12 Jack Concannon, Goalie – Concannon started all 15 of Hofstra’s games last season, totaling an 8.53 GAA, 12th best in the nation. He also kept four teams under five goals last season: UNC, Ohio State, NJIT, and Drexel. Concannon’s performance was rewarded with First Team All-CAA honors last season and 2017 Preseason All-American honors. With a new defense this year, Concannon will have to step up and become a leader for the defense.
#16 Kris Clarke, Midfield – Since his freshmen season in 2014, Clarke hasn’t finished with a face-off percentage less than 50. Last season, he won 57.2 percent of his face-offs, good for 22nd in the nation and best in the CAA. In addition, Clarke picked up 81 ground balls, also best in the CAA, and was ranked 11th in the nation in ground balls per game. His performance was rewarded with his second consecutive All-CAA first team.
#27 Brendan Kavanagh, Attack – Kavanagh switches to #25 this season after previously wearing #25. Kavanagh was the second highest assist-man on the Pride with 13, two behind Byrne. Kavanagh is the second-highest goal scorer to return to the Pride with 10 goals last season. His play awarded him pre-season All-CAA team honors. With Llinares, Hendrickson, and Von Bargen’s departure, Kavanagh will have an opportunity to showcase his skills on offense and contribute a lot to the success of the team.
Who steps up on offense?
Finding someone to replace Llinares would be challenging enough for Seth Tierney’s squad. Replacing three of your top goal-scorers presents a whole extra issue. Luckily, the Pride will be led by their top goal-scorer, Josh Byrne, but Byrne showed that when put under some pressure he isn’t as effective on offense. If that isn’t a reason for concern, if you take out the players who graduate, the goals scored difference between the top two guys is 20 goals. Tierney has a difficult task to find a player to help Byrne on the offense.
While Hofta’s D doesn’t take as big of a hit as the offense, they do lose a key player in Sullivan. However, the Pride returns Concannon, who will anchor the defense. In addition, the Pride also return senior Michael Diener, who caused two turnovers and tallied 14 ground balls, and junior Brett Osman, who caused five turnovers and tallied 23 ground balls. These three players will have to step up in order to keep opposing teams’ goals down.
When a team loses key players like Llinares and Sullivan, it usually means that team is about to enter rebuilding mode. Tierney understood this, so he recruited from lacrosse hotbed Long Island. In fact, Tierney’s recruited close to home, signing his son Ryan to be an attacker for the Pride. Fans are hopeful that the young Tierney can fill the shoes left by Llinares. In addition, two players will join the defense: Kyle Silwak, a defensive midfielder from Wantagh, and Eric Wenz, a defender from St. Anthony’s. All eyes will be on what freshmen, if any, can step up and make an impact immediately.