Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Spring Sports Preview

The spring semester brings with it the start of lacrosse, softball and baseball season. The men’s lacrosse and softball programs are two of Hofstra’s most successful, while the women’s lacrosse team is in the hunt for the Colonial Athletic Association title every year, and the baseball team is on the rise.

Coming off their third consecutive NCAA Championship Tournament appearance, the men’s lacrosse team returns 31 players, including eight starters from last year’s 9-5 team. The Pride, who lost just 14 of their 181 goals in 2010 to graduation, return 10 of their top 11 scorers. Hofstra returns all three starting attackmen, led by the senior All-American honorable mentions Jay Card, who tallied 31 goals and 22 assists, and Jamie Lincoln, who posted a team-high 33 goals and 20 assists. Senior starter Stephen Bentz, who recorded a career-best 29 goals and 12 assists, also returns to the starting lineup. The three seniors give the Pride one of the most potent starting attacks in college lacrosse.

Hofstra lost just one starter from a deep midfield unit and returns junior starters Brad Loizeaux, an All-CAA first team pick who tallied 19 goals and 11 assists, and Kevin Ford, who added 15 goals and six assists, and sophomore All-CAA Rookie team pick Adrian Sorichetti, who posted nine goals and six assists. In addition, the Pride picked up two more midfielders, graduate student Steve Serling, who was named the Patriot League Player of the Year after scoring 37 goals and 12 assists at Lafayette, and sophomore Ian Braddish, a transfer from North Carolina, who will make the midfield as lethal as the attack. The Pride also bolstered their potency on face-offs with the return of sophomore All-CAA Rookie team pick John Antoniades, who won 55 percent of his face-offs to place 23rd in Division I last year, and the addition of junior Zachary Pall, a transfer from Quinnipiac who ranked ninth in the country in face-off winning percentage (58 percent).

On defense, senior All-CAA second team selection Mike Skudin, who picked up 29 ground balls last year, and sophomore Cody Solaja, another All-CAA Rookie team selection who picked up 11 ground balls, anchor a young close defense. Senior short-stick middie Stephen DeNapoli, who posted a team-high 49 ground balls to go with his four goals and three assists last year, and senior pole Adam Mojica, another All-CAA second team selection who picked up 32 ground balls and forced 11 turnovers, are two of the best at their positions. Hofstra also returns both goalies who split time last season – junior Andrew Gvozden, who was 4-2 with a 9.30 GAA, and sophomore Rob Bellairs, who was 5-3 with an 8.81 GAA.

The softball team is coming off a 2010 season that saw it advance to the NCAA Regional finals against third-ranked Arizona. The Pride return most of their key players from last year’s squad, which tied the school record for wins (45) and went 15-6 against schools from BCS conferences, including two wins over No. 14 Oklahoma State in the NCAA Tournament. Hofstra does have to replace its top two hitters from last year, center fielder Kris Root (.366) and first baseman Michele DePasquale (.350, 9 HR, 41 RBI), but returns its entire pitching staff, including first team All-CAA starters Olivia Galati (26-7) and Erin Wade (18-5), and plenty of hitters with significant starting experience in the batting order, led by senior third baseman Sara Michalowski (.308, 8 HR, 34 RBI). “We had a magical year last season when everything came together right from the beginning,” said Head Coach Bill Edwards. “We graduated an outstanding senior class, though, and the players coming back will need to understand right from the first pitch that last year is behind us. Nothing will be given to us this year; we’ll have to work that much harder to earn it again.”

Hofstra will test itself early in the season, as it always does, with road trips to play in tournaments hosted by Florida State, East Carolina, LSU and Florida Atlantic. In addition to the host schools, Hofstra will also face Texas, Virginia, Purdue, Michigan State and Pittsburgh in its early tournaments. The tough non-conference games won’t end with the southern trips, as Hofstra will also play against tough local rivals such as LIU, Connecticut, Fordham, Rutgers and Lehigh. The CAA schedule will be challenging as well, as the other three schools that made the conference tournament – Georgia State, Towson, and James Madison – all have
their top pitchers returning for their sophomore seasons.

The women’s lacrosse team will look to build upon its 2010 campaign as the Pride are coming off a season that saw them advance to the CAA title game and finish the season ranked 15th in the nation. It will be a new look for the Pride in 2011, though, as senior attack Stephanie Rice and sophomore midfielder Jill Maier will be asked to step up and provide much needed scoring punch, with the loss of All-American Corrine Gandolfi. Rice was fourth in goals last season with 23, while Maier added 22 goals and eight assists for 30 points. Maier’s point total was good for fourth on the team, and she also added 18 draw controls and 13 ground balls. Rice contributed 17 ground balls, while starting all 18 games for Hofstra in 2010.

Coming off a 12-6 season and a CAA mark of 5-2, Hofstra’s defense looks to be its top unit, as senior defender Katie Hertsch anchors a group that allowed just 8.86 goals per game a season ago. Hertsch, who ranks in the top 10 all-time at Hofstra in ground balls, caused turnovers and draw controls, was an IWLCA all-region pick a season ago and also garnered All-CAA accolades. In goal, junior Jackie Pandolf returns after playing in 15 games last season with three starts. Pandolf was 3-0 on the year with an 8.26 goals against average.

Head Coach Abby Morgan has put together a challenging slate in 2011 that will see the Pride take on 11 opponents that won at least 10 games last season and four schools that qualified for the NCAA Tournament in 2010.

The baseball team, which was picked last in the 2010 preseason coaches poll, won 20 games and stayed in contention for a CAA Playoff berth until the second to last weekend of the season. Third-year Head Coach Patrick Anderson has the Pride moving in the right direction, and the team will look to make another positive step in 2011.

Anderson will field a new-look team this spring, as only two position starters return, but several talented freshmen and junior college transfers are ready to step in and play. Sophomore shortstop Matt Ford, a CAA All-Rookie selection in 2010, returns to his starting job after batting .311 with nine doubles and 27 RBIs as a freshman. Senior outfielder Scott A’Hara returns after batting .346 with nine doubles and 23 RBIs during his junior campaign. Junior first baseman/outfielder T.J. Thomas, who sat out last year after transferring from San Diego State, is expected to give the Pride a big middle of the order presence. Freshmen Logan Davis and Bobby Gazzola won starting jobs at third base and second base, respectively, during fall practice, while junior college transfers Dylan Nasiatka (catcher), Danny Poma (outfield) and Joe Perez (designated hitter) are also expected to make an impact.

The pitching staff returns starters Jared Rogers, David D’Errico and Sean Monaghan, who combined to win 10 of Hofstra’s 20 victories, and welcomes back red-shirt senior Rob Kumbatovic. The bullpen boasts senior Jeff Guthridge, who appeared in a school-record 31 games last season, and provided two wins and two saves, as well as sophomore Joe Burg, who made 25 appearances and also won two games.

The Pride will challenge themselves with a schedule that includes nationally ranked Florida State and Miami (FL), as well as Florida Atlantic and St. John’s, and battles within the CAA.

In addition to the four sports previewed above, the Hofstra men’s and women’s golf and tennis teams compete during the spring season. All four teams will look to build on the success they had during fall competition.

For more information on any of Hofstra’s 17 sports, please visit GoHofstra.com. Hofstra Athletics Hofstra Athletics

“We had a magical year last season when everything came together right from the beginning,” said Head Coach Bill Edwards.


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