Hofstra off to promising start


Hofstra junior attack Torin Varn continued his torrid start to the lacrosse season, netting a hat trick in a 10-5 victory over visiting Harvard on March 2 as the Pride won for the third time in four games to start 2013.

Varn, who opened the year with a five-goal performance to lead a win over Sacred Heart, gave Hofstra the lead for good against the Crimson less than five minutes into the third quarter with an unassisted tally that made it 4-3. His hat trick goal, No. 14 on the year, came with 5:47 left in the quarter. Junior midfielder Drew Coholan added two goals, while freshman attack Sam Llinares chipped in a goal and two assists.

“Talent returns, but chemistry doesn’t,” Pride coach Seth Tierney said. “We lost a ton of one-goal games last season, but we brought back a lot of pieces and have a lot of potential.”

Hofstra, which finished 6-8 overall in 2012, with six defeats by one goal including four in overtime, returned seven starters and was ranked No. 17 in the preseason in NCAA Division I. Qualifying for the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament, Tierney said, is tops on the team’s radar at this point. “We want to make the CAA Tournament and go from there,” Tierney said. “The conference is loaded with strong teams.”

After ranking 13th in the country in scoring defense, allowing just 8.8 goals per game, the Pride has the personnel to be stingy once again. The in-close defense is an experienced group led by fifth-year grad students Mark Mullen and Michael Hamilton, as well as senior Cody Solaja. Mullen, who usually gets the toughest marking assignment, picked up 16 ground balls and had 10 takeaways last season. Hamilton scooped 21 ground balls, while Solaja had 14 grounders and eight takeaways. “They’ll take on anybody back there,” said Tierney, who praised the work of the defense in Hofstra’s 9-2 victory at Fairfield on Feb. 26. Sophomore Jack Moorehead, who missed last season with an injury, is fourth on the defensive depth chart.

In goal, sophomore Chris Selva has emerged as the leader to replace four-year starter Andrew Gvozden. Selva enjoyed a strong preseason and played every minute of each of the first four games, allowing a total of 26 goals while facing 135 shots. “Chris plays with a great sense of urgency and leads by his competitiveness,” Tierney said. “He’s athletic and understands the defense.” Selva is backed by senior Ryan Brant, a transfer from Ohio State, junior Eddie Collins, a former Long Beach High School star and standout at Nassau Community College, and junior Jason Rosenzweig out of Massapequa.

Opposing goaltenders have already seen enough of Varn & Co. Varn, Llinares, senior Adrian Sorichetti, and junior Lance Yapor combined for 28 goals and 15 assists through four games. Varn, who does most of his work in the crease area, is making the most of his promotion to starter after finding the net eight times a year ago. Llinares, meanwhile, got his college career off to an amazing start with five goals in the opener against Sacred Heart, including goal No. 1 just 3:35 into the game. He has eight goals and six assists so far. “Sam’s the complete package,” Tierney said. Sorichetti, a midfielder, led Hofstra in scoring in 2012 with 24 goals and 14 assists and had a 10-point game (seven goals, three assists) against St. John’s. He’s just rounding into form after a back injury and has three goals and four assists. Yapor, off a 25-goal campaign, is a slick playmaker with three goals and five helpers so far.

The midfield is starting to come together, Tierney said. It’s a deep group led by Sorichetti, senior face-off specialist John Antoniades and sophomore Mike Malave. The unit was bolstered by the return to health of Coholan and grad student Bran Loizeaux, and addition of freshman Brian von Bargen. Coholan and Loizeaux both missed 2012 due to injury.

The Pride plays three of its first four CAA games on the road, beginning this Saturday at 1 p.m. at Delaware. The CAA home opener is March 23 versus Drexel at 1 p.m.