Hofstra Has a Window of Opportunity

(Photo Courtesy of Hofstra Athletics)

The Hofstra Pride haven’t churned out a full winning season since 2017, and it’s been almost a decade since they made their last NCAA Tournament appearance. Since that 2017 season, where they lost to UMass in the CAA semifinals, they have gone 6-8, 5-9, and held a 4-3 record at the time the 2020 season was cancelled.

2020 could have been the year that they broke through and got back to the top of the conference, which they haven’t done in nine years. But due to the season being cancelled, it is looking more and more like the 2021 season could be the window of opportunity that the Pride faithful have been waiting for.

Ryan Tierney (21G/14A), who has been an impact player since he first stepped foot on campus, will be back for his fifth and final season with the Pride. They also have added three transfers on the offensive side of the ball in grad transfers Alex Concannon from Johns Hopkins and Justin Lynskey from Holy Crosse, and sophomore Isaiah Skidders from UAlbany.

Concannon tallied 56 points (31G/25A) during his career at Johns Hopkins, where he appeared in 48 games for the Blue Jays. Lynskey recorded 66 points (45G/21A) in 35 games for the Crusaders. Skidders was at UAlbany during the fall of 2019 and was a highly touted prospect coming out of IMG Academy, Fla.

Beyond Tierney and the three transfers they bring in, the 21st best scoring offense in the nation returns three of their other top five scorers from last season, and most of them are on the younger end of the spectrum. Junior attackmen Whit Stopak (11G/5A) and Justin Sykes (9G/5A) both played huge roles last season as sophomores, serving as the second and third options on attack for the Pride. Sophomores Sam Lutfi (3G/7A) and Ryan Sheridan (7G/2A), and junior Ardrey Sterlyn (7G/1A) each made impacts last season and should take another step forward in 2021, especially considering how versatile each has shown they can be.

The Pride offense should also have plenty of opportunities to do their thing, as they return their starting faceoff man, Brian Herber. As a junior, he went 112-for-179 (63%) at the faceoff dot. He ranked 13th in the nation in faceoff win percentage this past season and has been this Pride’s primary faceoff man since 2019. He should remain among the best in the nation and CAA in 2021.

On the defensive end of the field, things look pretty similar in terms of the amount of talent returning. While the Pride do lose their top pole in Eric Wenz to graduation, they also return some big pieces on the back end, including starting goalie Bobby Casey. The Wantagh, N.Y., native has started every game since taking a redshirt year during the 2018 season. He posted a .504 save percentage last season with 66 saves.

The 18th best scoring defense in DI will also return two of their top close defensemen from last season in Keegan Santos (4GB/3CT), who started all seven games, and Daniel Ochs (9GB/1CT). Santos saw action in all seven games, starting in two.

LSM Michael Altmann was second on the team in ground balls with 25 and caused six turnovers during the shortened 2020 season. He also recorded seven points (3G/4A). Coming back for an extra season as a grad student, Altmann looks to play a huge part in the defense once again and should really help spark some transition opportunities for this offense, like he has in the past.

If this Hofstra defense can hold its own again in 2021 and their offense lives up to the hype that many have surrounded it with, this could be a special year of Hofstra. They look to have all the pieces to compete in what looks to be a tightly contested CAA, and make some significant noise.

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