Hempstead, NY - The Hofstra Men's Lacrosse team will open the 2013 regular season this Saturday, February 16 when the Pride host the Pioneers of Sacred Heart University at James M. Shuart Stadium. Game time is 1:30 p.m.
The Pride, who return 27 players including seven starters from last year's 6-8 squad, will be looking to return to the NCAA Division I Championship tournament after missing out last season for the first time since 2007. Hofstra returns seven of their top 10 scorers led by senior midfielder Adrian Sorichetti (Whitby, ON, Canada), who tallied 24 goals and team-highs of 14 assists and 38 points. The Canadian native was an All-CAA first team selection last season and is a preseason All-American pick in 2013. Junior attackman Lance Yapor (Glenview, IL) led the Pride in goals with 25 including a team-high five man-up goals last season. The crafty veteran has the goal scoring and play-making abilities, as his 10 assists also prove last season.
While the Pride have some outstanding veteran leadership, they also have some young freshman and sophomore talent who have and will be expected to contribute this season. Sophomore attackman Tyler Begley (East Islip, NY), who posted 10 goals and seven assists last year, and classmate midfielder Mike Malave (Wading River, NY), who notched nine goals and two assists in 2012, both received great experience a year ago. Freshman attackman Sam Llinares (Hauppauge, NY), an Under Armour and U.S. Lacrosse All-American at Hauppauge High School last season, and midfielder Brian von Bargen (Wantagh, NY), an all-county selection and Most Outstanding Athlete award winner at Wantagh High School, have both shown that they can be offensive threats in the four preseason scrimmages.
One of the major keys for the Pride is at the face-off X where senior captain John Antoniades (Hauppauge, NY) will be starting for the fourth consecutive season. Antoniades, an All-CAA second team selection after winning 54 percent of his face-offs last season, will be looking to return to his 2011 form when he won 64 percent of his face-offs that made him a USILA All-American honorable mention pick.
The Hofstra defense is experienced and talented with the return of graduate-students Mark Mullen (Harleysville, PA) and Michael Hamilton (Brighton, MI), and senior Cody Solaja (Dallas, TX). Mullen was an All-CAA second team selection in 2012 and usually gets assigned to the opponents' top offensive threat. Hamilton saw the most playing time of his career last season and started four games down the stretch. Solaja, the most experienced of the starting backliners, is beginning his fourth year as a starter for the Pride.
The big question for the Pride is in goal after the graduation of four-year starter Andrew Gvozden last spring. Four goalies have battled throughout the preseason camp and scrimmages with two emerging as front-runners in senior Ryan Brant (Edgewater, MD) and sophomore Chris Selva (Parkland, FL). Brant, who transferred to Hofstra in 2012 but has not seen any game action for the Pride, played in six games over two seasons for the Buckeyes of Ohio State. Selva saw limited time in two games as a back-up to Gvozden last season. The competition has been so fierce that a decision on the starting goalie would not be made until late Thursday or Friday of game week.
Hofstra and Sacred Heart will be meeting for the 12th time and their second consecutive season opener on Saturday. The Pride edged the Pioneers, 11-9 in a tough struggle last season. After being tied at five at halftime, the Pride tallied four goals in the third to open up a 9-6 lead heading into the final period. But Sacred Heart closed to within one goal twice in the final 15 minutes, the latest at 10-9, before Sorichetti notched the final goal of the contest. Yapor scored a career-high four goals while Sorichetti and current senior Aaron Jones each tallied two goals. Hofstra holds an 11-0 series advantage over Sacred Heart.
The Pioneers are coming off a 4-8 season in 2012. Like the Pride, Sacred Heart was snake-bit last season, dropping five games by two goals or less. But their offense averaged almost 10 goals per game with many returning including a starting attack of juniors. Leading the Pioneers is Cody Marquis, who took home team point honors with 17 goals and 18 assists for 35 points. Mike Mawdsley led Sacred Heart with 30 goals while Matt Gannon added four goals and a team-high 22 assists. In the cage, junior Ryan Hughes, the Pioneers' Defensive Most Valuable Player last season, started nine of the 12 games that he played and recorded 140 saves, a .536 save percentage and a 10.65 goals against average.
The game will be broadcast live on radio on WGCH-AM 1490 with Kevin Dexter and Mike Sullivan.
Hofstra will also audio stream all eight home games and video stream seven of the eight games in 2013. Live audio for the Sacred Heart game can be found on the PRIDE ZONE at GoHofstra.com. In addition, FiOS will be televising Pride home games this season on a tape delay basis. Check your local listing for the time of airing.
Tickets for Saturday's contest, as well as season ticket information, can be obtained by calling (516) HOF-TIXX (463-8499). Tickets are priced at $16 for reserved (chair-back) seats, $12 for adult general admission and $6 for youth under-12 and senior citizen general admission. Saturday's game is part of a Pride women's/men's doubleheader with former Northwestern three-time All-American player and national champion Shannon Smith making her Hofstra debut as head women's lacrosse coach against New Hampshire at 11 a.m. One ticket is good for both games.