Hofstra Letting Play Speak for Itself


Freshman Ryan Tierney, the son of Hofstra head coach Seth Tierney, has 12 goals and seven assists in helping the Pride to a 5-0 start this season.

By going toe-to-toe successfully with North Carolina for the second straight year and ascending to a No. 6 ranking as a result, Hofstra has opened its 2017 season with five consecutive victories. That matches the school’s best start under 11th-year head coach Seth Tierney, who also guided the Pride to a 5-0 record in 2011.

Not that the Pride, seeking the school’s first 6-0 start since 1973 against visiting Providence on Saturday, are anxious to talk about themselves.

“When it comes to talking about our record or our spot in the polls, the attitude in our locker room is ‘No comment,’” Tierney says. “We were picked 35th in the country before the season started, and that’s fine. We’d rather let our play speak for itself.”

Hofstra, which already has collected huge non-conference wins over Princeton and Carolina as it prepares to get after a Colonial Athletic Association title, clearly is playing with an edge and impressive chemistry.

On offense, freshman attackman Ryan Tierney – Seth’s son – has emerged as an effective complement to senior Josh Byrne, one of the game’s finer lefty finishers. Byrne (16 goals, 11 assists, both team-highs) already has four hat tricks, while Tierney (12g, 7a) has notched three of them. Together, they’re shooting a combined 28-for-61 (46 percent).

“Ryan has made it clear that he belongs,” Tierney says. “He’s done a really good job of learning from Josh, who has been a good captain and is very comfortable being the marked man who has to distribute the ball more this year.”

Junior Brendan Kavanagh – the younger brother of former Notre Dame star attackman Matt – leads the first midfield unit with 10 goals. Junior Dylan Alderman is coming off a career-best, six-point day against the Tar Heels. Junior Alex Moeser has produced three, two-goal efforts.

The defense is ably anchored by junior goalie Jack Concannon, who has allowed 7.79 goals per game (11th in NCAA) and has saved 60.6 percent of the shots he’s faced (tied for 7th). In back-to-back, 11-9 wins over Georgetown and Carolina, Concannon stopped 17 and 13 shots, respectively.

Hofstra has showed grit in other ways. While midfielder Kris Clarke, the Pride’s primary faceoff man, is nearing his return from an injury that has kept him out of the lineup, freshman Kyle Gallagher has been a surprise as his replacement – in more ways than one.

Not only has Gallagher held his own by winning 53 of 102 faceoff attempts (52 percent). He has bounced back in startling fashion, after suffering fractured vertebrae in a scary, late-summer swimming accident. Tierney says Gallagher had successful fusion surgery shortly before reporting to school in August.

“[Gallagher] showed up in a neck brace. It could have been in a wheelchair. Now, he’s our faceoff man,” Tierney says. “This team has done a really good job of being brothers and playing for each other. We’ve learned some lessons over the last couple of years. We’ve got some chemistry going.”

Stags Looking to Boost Stagnant Offense

Under ninth-year head coach Andy Copelan, Fairfield has typically not been known for its explosive offense. Fairfield has remained competitive in the Colonial Athletic Association with sound defense and hustle, above-average faceoff and goalie play and by clearing consistently and limiting turnovers.

But the 2017 Stags have been especially stagnant offensively during their 2-4 start – even with reigning CAA Rookie and co-Player of the Year Colin Burke on attack in his sophomore season. Burke led all Division I freshmen with 46 goals last year. He set a Fairfield freshman record with 63 points.

Through their first six games, the Stags have averaged just 7.17 goals on 21.6 percent shooting. That’s an average of two goals lower than in 2016, when Fairfield played in its first CAA title game and went down at Towson, 4-2.

Among 69 Division I schools, Fairfield is tied for 65th in scoring offense.

Copelan, who holds a 75-53 record at Fairfield, attributes the low scores in part to youth. All-CAA midfielder T.J. Neubauer and midfielder Charlie Schnider graduated after combining for 42 goals and 35 assists in 2016. Neubauer scored at least 30 goals in three seasons.

In addition, Burke (team-highs 10 goals and six assists) is complemented by two freshman attackmen in Travis Ford and Dylan Beckwith, who struggled early.

Fairfield’s season-opening, 15-3 dud at Richmond set an early tone. The Stags also dropped an 8-3 decision to Rutgers, and managed just six goals in a loss at Stony Brook.

“We got punched in the teeth [at Richmond], and some of our youthful inexperience showed through,” Copelan recalls. “I think we had a false sense of who we were. Guys were shell-shocked.

“Burke is at the top of everyone’s scouting report this year, and that’s a new thing to deal with,” he adds. “Our young guys are defining what a high-quality shot is, and we’ve seen some pretty good goalies. The margin of error is so slim at places like ours. I wish I could put my finger on why we’ve started slowly the last two years. It’s all about conference play.”

The Stags open league play against Hofstra on April 1. But on Friday, they have a weighty road assignment in the form of top-ranked, 7-0 Penn State, which is sporting one of the nation’s most prolific offenses. Fairfield might have to win a shootout to get the victory.

The Stags, who have appeared in the NCAA tournament in 2002 and 2005, have toppled a top-ranked opponent before. In 2013, Fairfield traveled to Denver and knocked off the no. 1 Pioneers.

Edelmann Thrilled to Be on Field for Rutgers


After missing most of last season with an injury, Max Edelmann is back on the field and a key reason that Rutgers has gotten off to a 7-0 start.

When Rutgers junior Max Edelmann, one of the hotter goalies in Division I, says he is thrilled to be playing lacrosse, he really means it.

Last season, Edelmann, after arriving in Piscataway as a transfer from Community College of Baltimore County – Essex, won the starting job with an excellent fall season. Soon after that, his sophomore year ended painfully and prematurely.

During the third game of the 2016 season against Fairfield, Edelmann suffered a severe abdominal injury and had to leave the game. He would not return again, and would later learn that a torn right abductor muscle was at the heart of the pain he kept experiencing in his core.

Edelmann, who eventually had the problem fixed with surgery in August, officially had a 3-0 record in 2016. He could only watch the rest of last year as former teammate Kris Alleyne took over in the cage and helped Rutgers match a school record with 11 victories. He could only watch Rutgers beat Johns Hopkins twice, including a 14-12 thriller at Homewood Field in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals.

“After I got hurt, I questioned if I was going to travel with the team or if I’d get back on the field again,” recalls Edelmann, who traveled with the Scarlet Knights all year and credited head coach Brian Brecht with keeping him engaged.

“[Brecht] gets to every guy in our locker room, and he called me in [after his season-ending injury] to say he wanted me there,” Edelmann adds. “He wanted to make sure I would stay in tune with our defense. He kept me motivated and involved. It was really hard being off the field, but he made me feel like I was still on the field.”

Edelmann, a former All-Maryland JUCO first teamer and Defensive Player of the Year, had a huge hand in fifth-ranked Rutgers’ 7-0 start. Edelmann ranks ninth in the NCAA in goals-allowed average (7.40) and is ranked 11th in Division I in save percentage (.582). Rutgers is hoping that Edelmann is around for more two more seasons after 2017, should its request for a medical redshirt be granted.

In the meantime, the junior out of Middletown (Md.) High School has yet to suffer a loss in 10 decisions at the Division I level after Rutgers 16-11 win over No. 9 Princeton on Wednesday.

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