March 3, 2016
Harvard has pulled out three straight overtime wins and takes on Duke on Saturday. (Peyton Williams)
Harvard has pulled out three straight overtime wins and takes on Duke on Saturday. (Peyton Williams)

McAnaney: Previewing Delicious Turnpike Doubleheader

Hofstra-Georgetown, Harvard-Duke on Long Island Saturday

by Eamon McAnaney | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter | McAnaney Archive

If you are planning on starting your Saturday on Long Island with a sausage, egg and cheese sandwich on a roll from the Coliseum Deli in Hempstead, you better get there pretty early.

With an old school doubleheader of Georgetown-Hofstra and Harvard-Duke on tap next door at Shuart Stadium, you won't be the only one with that idea.

"I think there is going to be a great atmosphere," said Hofstra head coach Seth Tierney. "There might be snow on Friday and there might be snow on Sunday, but Saturday is supposed to sunny and in the 40's, so there should be a good crowd."

With wins over North Carolina and Princeton, Tierney's Pride club has become the season's early surprise team and Hofstra has vaulted from unranked in the preseason to the Top 10. This is already a different script from last year, when the Pride went 5-9 with eight of the losses being by a combined 13 goals.

"What we learned from last year has been key. We learned it, we lived it and now we are moving forward," Tierney said.

The difference in the Pride has been noticed by former Hofstra defenseman and current Georgetown head coach Kevin Warne.

"They're playing old school Hofstra lacrosse," Warne said. "They are scrappy, they're flying around and the bench is excited. They are playing with a chip on their shoulder."

The arrival of Josh Byrne hasn't hurt either. The transfer from Nassau Community College by way of British Columbia has 12 goals in three games including the OT winner against Princeton.

"You watch 42 do things on tape and in the game and you go 'Wow that can't be coached,'" said Tiger head coach Chris Bates.

While Hofstra has been a pleasant surprise through the first few weeks of the season, the same cannot be said for Georgetown.

The Hoyas were in everyone's preseason Top 20 and there was talk of returning to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2007. The Hoyas, however, dropped tough games to top-10 opponents Notre Dame and Towson to start the season and then were knocked off by Mount Saint Mary's on Tuesday.

Tierney is definitely concerned that his team might read too much into the Hoyas' winless record.

"There is no trick and that's the problem. They are the best 0-3 team in the country and that is not coach speak; just look at the quality of opponents they have played. We know they can play and we know we have a scary animal coming in here on Saturday."

Warne feels the key to a turnaround will be to forget about the expectations.

"Our guys might be trying too hard. We just have to worry about ourselves," Warne said. "We need to make it really simple and just coach effort. We don't need to go for home runs, just singles."

Georgetown coach Kevin Warne thinks the 0-3 Hoyas might be trying to hard and need to settle down. (John Strohsacker)

With three comeback, overtime wins to start the season, Harvard has the hashtag #CardiacCrimson trending in the 6-1-7.

"It's been a fun ride," said Crimson head coach Chris Wojcik. "I tell you, though, this isn't the blueprint at all but we haven't played our best lacrosse yet and we have come out on top each time. Depth and conditioning have been factors but also we fight for each other with a strong resolve. We've been able to execute down the stretch and we've never, ever quit."

Wojcik knows the thin ice will probably crack though if Harvard digs a hole against the No. 3 Blue Devils.

"With three national titles in eight years, Duke has been as successful as any program in the country in the time that I have been a head coach, so this is a huge measuring stick for us and that has really lit a fire under our players to be their best this week."

Wojcik feels the faceoff game will be critical because the Crimson is winning only 34 percent of draws and no one goes for the knockout punch quite like the Blue Devils.

[RELATED: EAMON'S PODCAST WITH DUKE'S JOHN DANOWSKI]

"What they really excel at is going on runs, you know those four-five goal runs," Wojcik said. "We have to limit those four-five goal runs to a two-goal run."

This is a critical year for Harvard, with the largest senior class in program history on the roster and coming off a 7-7 campaign in which the Crimson did not qualify for the Ivy League tournament.

Duke head coach John Danowski knows a thing or two about large senior classes and he feels his club better be ready for a street fight along Hempstead Turnpike.

"Fifteen seniors and they all can see the finish line," Danowski said. "They are a playing with a sense of urgency, lots of urgency and we're going to have to match that on Saturday."

Eamon McAnaney is the play-by-play voice of ESPN lacrosse and has contributed to LaxMagazine.com since 2014. He was a defenseman at Notre Dame and was captain of the Fighting Irish's 1991 team. Check out more from Eamon here.


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