FAIRFIELD, Conn. - Sacred Heart opens the season for the second straight year by hosting a ranked opponent at Campus Field. The Pioneers take on #9 Hofstra at 1:00 pm on Saturday February 19.
About the Pioneers... SHU lost each of its top four scorers to graduation from a year ago, but will look toward junior Matt Ferrino and sophomore Bryan Badolato to lead the offensive attack. Badolato earned a spot on the Northeast Conference All-Rookie team a year ago after scoring eight goals and adding three assists. Ferrino is the top returning goal scorer, as he found the back of the net 10 times in 2010. The Pioneers return a pair of veterans who did not see a lot of action last season. Senior defender Tim Lewis, who played and started in each of the first five games, returns to the SHU back line and was named to the Inside Lacrosse Preseason NEC Team. Between the pipes, senior Zach Frank returns after spending much of 2010 as the second string goalie. In 2009, Frank totaled 168 saves and a 10.27 goals against average.
Scouting the Pride... Hofstra (1-0, 0-0 CAA) completed 2010 with a 9-5 record overall and went 2-3 in the Colonial Athletic Association. The Pride enter the season ranked ninth in the USILA Preseason Poll and return each of its top four scorers who all eclipsed 30 points a year ago. Seniors Jamie Lincoln (33g, 20a), Jay Card (31g, 20a), and Stephen Bentz (29g, 12a) will pace the Hofstra attack, while junior Brad Loizeaux (19g, 11a) is a dangerous offensive weapon from the midfield. Junior Andrew Gvozden and sophomore Rob Bellairs each return to contend for the starting goalie job after having started seven games apiece in 2010.
Last Time They Met... Sacred Heart visited Hofstra, ranked sixth at the time, last March and fell 14-6. Timmy Katz provided most of the offense on the day as he tallied four score for the Pioneers. Evan Morgan and Bryan Badolato, along with Katz, each scored in the first quarter to break even with the Pride at the first break. Katz scored again to put SHU up 4-3, but Hofstra answered with goals from Stephen Bentz and Jamie Lincoln, followed by two scores from Jay Card to go up 7-4 at the half. Hofstra outscored Sacred Heart 7-2 in the second half. Rob Bellairs stopped six shots for the win, while Tom Trgo made eight saves for SHU.
All-Time vs. Hofstra... Today's match-up marks the 10th consecutive season that the Pioneers and Pride have faced each other, dating back to SHU's first season in the CAA, 2002. Hofstra has won each of the nine previous contests. However, on their home field, the Pioneers have given the Pride a number of scares including a 9-8 overtime game in 2003 as well as narrow defeats of 10-8 in 2007 and 6-5 in 2009.
Captains... Seniors Ben Cimmino, Zach Frank, and Billy Skelos along with junior Rock Tate will serve as captains for head coach Tom Mariano's 2011 squad. Cimmino will be one of the top face-off specialists for the Pioneers, while Frank will start in net. Tate returns after playing in all 15 games, starting 13 on defense, and collecting 20 groundballs. Skelos returns to the SHU lineup after sitting out injured in 2010.
Up Next... The Pioneers travel to Poughkeepsie, N.Y. to take on Marist for a 1:00 pm face-off on February 26. Last season SHU fell to the Red Foxes 11-10 in overtime at Campus Field.
New Era for Men's Lax... While the Northeast Conference is celebrating its 30th season during the 2010-'11 academic year, this is the first season that men's lacrosse will officially be recognized as a conference sport.
Stache Madness... The Pioneers spent the month of November growing their facial hair in an effort to raise money for the HEADstrong Foundation. Along with other men's lacrosse team across the country, Sacred Heart took part in "Mustache Madness" to raise money toward the research for a cure for blood cancers. The HEADstrong foundation was founded by former Hofstra lacrosse player Nicholas Collelouri in 2005.
New Coaches on the Block... Head coach Tom Mariano has announced the addition of two new assistant coaches to the men's lacrosse staff. Joining the Pioneers for their first season in 2010 are Chris Miller and Scott Smith. Miller, who previously served as an assistant at Virginia Military, will serve as the team's offensive and recruiting coordinator. Smith comes from nearby Staples High School, in Westport, and will assume the role of goalkeeper coach.