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Marquette Men's Lacrosse Preview: at #19 Hofstra

The Golden Eagles head out to Long Island with an eye on continuing the best start in program history.

Believe it or not, this is a picture of Ryan McNamara from last year's game against Hofstra.
Believe it or not, this is a picture of Ryan McNamara from last year's game against Hofstra.
Zack Lane/MarquetteImages.com

In 2013, Marquette lacrosse started their first ever season with a loss at Ohio State and then a win over Air Force.  Last year, in the second season of lacrosse, the Golden Eagles started with a loss against Lehigh followed by a win against Hofstra.

This year, for the first time, Marquette finds themselves in a position where being 1-1 after two games will be a disappointment.  Last Saturday, the Golden Eagles hung on for a victory over #16 Lehigh.  As luck would have it, MU will head out to Long Island this weekend to mirror the start of the 2014 season to face Hofstra again.  The win over the Pride a year ago was arguably the most important win in program history right up until last week's win over the nationally ranked Mountain Hawks.  If the Golden Eagles can defeat head coach Joe Amplo's alma mater for the second consecutive year, a win over Hofstra will once again be the biggest win in program history.  Opening the 2015 season with two wins over teams that were ranked in the preseason poll will definitely launch the Golden Eagles into that rarefied air of the top 20 teams in the country.

Last week, Marquette caught a bit of a break when the Mountain Hawks got rung up for three quick penalties in the third quarter.  The 3 man advantage situation that ensued allowed MU to build momentum to get the lead they needed to hold on for the win.  They will not likely get the same breaks against Hofstra, so this game will come down to whether or not Marquette's ready to assume control of a match and dictate their terms to an opponent.

Game #2: at #19 Hofstra (0-0)

When: Saturday, February 14, 2015, at 11am Central
Where: James Shuart Stadium in Hempstead, NY
Audio/Visual: Hofstra's streaming video FOR FREE, plus there's live stats.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteMLax

As you can tell from the record right up there, this will be the first game of the season for Hofstra, as was the case a year ago as well.  The difference here is that more is expected of this Pride squad than last year's, as they start the year with that #19 ranking.

It's slightly surprising that they carry that expectation, as they only return five starters.  However, one of those starters is Sam Llinares, who earned an Honorable Mention spot on the 2014 USILA All-American list.  Llinares notched three goals and three assists against the Golden Eagles last February as part of his 21 goals and 32 assists.  That helpers total was the 10th best mark in the country last season.  Those 53 points made the now-junior the first Pride player to break the 50 point barrier since 2010.

Last year, Hofstra finished 11-5 overall, but they won the Colonial Athletic Association regular season title at 4-1.  They advanced to the CAA championship game before falling 11-10 to Drexel in triple overtime.  This year, the Pride were picked to win the CAA title again, and Llinares was named the preseason Player of the Year.  Hofstra picked up four of the league's six first place votes in order to be named the favorite to win it all.  Llinares was joined on the preseason all-CAA team by senior midfielder Mike Malave, senior long stick midfielder Ryan Rielly, junior defender Finn Sullivan, and senior goalkeeper Chris Selva.  Llinares was an all-CAA First Team player a year ago, while Selva was on the Second Team.