By John Grimaldi
A star lacrosse player from Northport nearly saw his collegiate career slip away before he even got a chance to step onto the field at Hofstra University.
Kyle Gallagher narrowly avoided life-changing tragedy in the summer before his freshman year at the university when he severed his spine after attempting to dive into the ocean in the late hours of the night.
Gallagher, now a sophomore at Hofstra, luckily did not cause any permanent damage, but the rehabilitation process was long and arduous, and put the start of his college lacrosse career in serious jeopardy.
“He probably came in in one of the most adverse situation a man can start college in,” Seth Tierney, 12-year head coach of the Hofstra men’s lacrosse team said.
But that didn’t faze Gallagher, a star player for St. Anthony’s High School, who didn’t intend for the setback to end his lacrosse career.
While at the start of his rehab he couldn’t so much as put a backpack on, a few months later he was back on the lacrosse field taking faceoffs for the Pride.
“It was crazy,” Tierney said.
Gallagher eventually did suit up for the 2017 season, and contributed off the bat – or rather from the faceoff circle.
He recorded a .477 faceoff percentage, winning 105-of-220 faceoffs in the 12 games he played as a freshman. For his efforts, Gallagher earned a Colonial Athletic Association All-Rookie nod.
“It was definitely a transition because the college game is a lot faster,” said Gallagher, a 2016 St. Anthony’s grad, who helped the Friars win a state title. “But I just worked hard to get where I was.”
The faceoff specialist is eager to contribute once again this season as part of a Pride team looking to capitalize on last season’s success,
Last year, Hofstra saw unprecedented success, peaking at number two on the NCAA’s list of top 20 teams in the nation. However, Hofstra did fall short to end the season, suffering a heartbreaking loss to UMass in the CAA semifinals.
The team has since lost key contributors – including former captain and leading goal scorer Josh Byrne – but Gallagher, along with strong goalkeeper Jack Concannon and the rest of the Pride’s roster, will look to fill the gaps.
Hofstra opened its 2018 season on Feb. 17, when it traveled to Columbus to take on sixth-ranked Ohio State; Hofstra lost, 9-7, but showcased heart to overcome an early 5-0 deficit and keep the game close.
Gallagher was stout in the game, winning 9-of-18 faceoffs.
His and the Pride’s next game is Saturday, March 3 at home against Georgetown.