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Llinares picked as preseason CAA Player of the year

Posted Wednesday, January 21, 2015 by Jim Konen

Hofstra Picked to Finish First in CAA

RICHMOND, Va. - The No. 17 Hofstra University men's lacrosse team was picked to finish first in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) with the Pride's Sam Llinares selected as the CAA Preseason Player of the Year according to a vote by the league's six head coaches.

Llinares, a junior attackman, posted career highs and led the Pride in points (53) and assists (32), while scoring 21 goals last season. Llinares, who earned a USILA All-American honorable mention in 2014, led the CAA and ranked 10th in the nation in assists per game (2.13). He was third in the conference and 29th in the country in points per game (3.53). Llinares, who played and started in 15 games, had six multi-goal games and 11 multi-assist contests.

Hofstra finished with 29 points and sits atop the poll while No. 16 Drexel University, the defending CAA champions, received 25 points and was predicted to finish second. Hofstra is coming off an 11-5 season, a CAA Regular Season Championship, and a trip to the CAA Championship game in 2014. The Pride returns 26 players, including five starters, from that squad and has five Preseason All-CAA selections, including Llinares.

Drexel had its best season in program history in 2014, going 13-5 with a CAA Championship and a road win in the NCA Tournament. Drexel returns five starters from a year ago, including Preseason All-CAA selections Nick Saputo and Ryan Belka. Saputo, a face-off specialist, earned an All-American honorable mention after finishing 2014 seventh in NCAA Division I in both face-off percentage (.620) and ground balls per game (9.22). Belka, meanwhile, had 25 goals and 21 assists for 46 points last season.

Fairfield University, which begins its first season as a member of the CAA for men's lacrosse, was selected third while Towson University was predicted to finish fourth. Fairfield had its best season in program history, forging a 12-4 overall record and advancing to the ECAC Lacrosse League Championship final. Rounding out the order of finish was the University of Massachusetts in fifth and the University of Delaware in sixth.

Joining Llinares as Preseason All-CAA attackmen are Fairfield's Colin McLinden, Drexel's Cole Shafer, and Nick Mariano of UMass. McLinden, a USILA All-American honorable mention last season, finished with 51 points for the Stags last season which included 22 goals and 29 assists. Mariano, the 2014 CAA Rookie of the Year, tallied 29 goals and 10 assists for the Minutemen last season.

Joining Belka as Preseason All-CAA midfielders are Fairfield's TJ Neubauer and Hofstra's Mike Malave while teammate Ryan Rielly was recognized as a Preseason All-CAA long-stick midfielder. Neubauer had a team-best 33 goals for the Stags with 45 ground balls last season. For Hofstra, Malave found the back of the net 26 times and finished with 33 points last year while Rielly was a First Team All-CAA pick after causing 23 turnovers and gathering 49 ground balls.

On defense, Towson's JoJo Ostrander, Hofstra's Finn Sullivan, and UMass' Kyle Karaska all earned preseason honors. Ostrander is the Tigers top close defensemen and posted 22 ground balls and nine caused turnovers last season. Sullivan, who joined Ostrander as a First Team All-CAA selection last season, tallied 30 ground balls and 14 caused turnovers. Karaska helped anchor the UMass defense last season as a sophomore, finishing with 20 ground balls and nine caused turnovers.

Goalkeepers Chris Selva of Hofstra and Conor Peaks of Delaware split preseason votes. Last season, Selva led the CAA and finished sixth in Division I with an 8.29 goals against average along with 133 saves. Peaks was right behind Selva with a 9.04 GAA and 160 saves.

The men's lacrosse season will begin February 1 when Delaware heads to High Point. UMass gets underway on February 7 by hosting Army while Towson hosts Johns Hopkins on February 10. Fairfield, Hofstra, and Drexel all get their seasons started on February 14.

The 2015 CAA Men's Lacrosse Championship is set for April 29 with semifinal action and the title contest is slated for May 2. The semifinals will hosted by the two highest seeds while the championship game will be hosted by the highest remaining seed.

Name, School Pos. Cl. Hometown/High School
Sam Llinares, Hofstra* A Jr. Hauppauge, N.Y./Hauppauge
Nick Mariano, UMass# A So. Mohegan Lake, N.Y./Yorktown
Colin McLinden, Fairfield A Sr. Madison, N.J./Madison
Cole Shafer, Drexel A So. Coquitlan, British Columbia/Charles Best
Ryan Belka, Drexel* M Sr. Crofton, Md./DeMatha
Mike Malave, Hofstra M Sr. Wading River, N.Y./Shoreham-Wading River
TJ Neubauer, Fairfield M Jr. Glen Arm, Md./Loyola-Blakefield
Ryan Rielly, Hofstra* LSM Sr. East Northport, N.Y./John Glenn
Nick Saputo, Drexel* FO Sr. Huntington, N.Y./Huntington
Kyle Karaska, UMass# D Jr. Groton, Mass./ Bishop Guetin (NH)
JoJo Ostrander, Towson* D Sr. Massapequa, N.Y./Farmingdale
Finn Sullivan, Hofstra* D Jr. West Roxbury, Mass./Avon Old Farms
Conor Peaks, Delaware GK Jr. Ponte Vedra, Fla./Ponte Vedra
Chris Selva, Hofstra# GK Sr. Parkland, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas * - First Team All-CAA in 2014 # - Second Team All-CAA in 2014

Honorable Mention: Max Buchanan (Fairfield, D); Brian Kormondy (Delaware, M); Tyler Barbarich (Delaware, FO)



1. Hofstra 29 (4)
2. Drexel 25 (2)
3. Fairfield 21
4. Towson 20
5. UMass 15
6. Delaware 10

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