Albany's Doug Eich attempts to block UMBC midfielder Pat Young as their respective teams compete in the America East finals for men's lacrosse. They face off after Stony Brook let Albany slip past with a narrow win. (NINA LIN / THE STATESMAN)
Albany captain Doug Eich blocks UMBC midfielder Pat Young as their teams compete in the America East finals for men’s lacrosse. They face off after Albany slipped past Stony Brook  last Thursday, with a narrow victory for the Great Danes. (NINA LIN / THE STATESMAN)

“If Lyle Thompson doesn’t get the Tewaaraton, that’s crap,” Stony Brook Men’s Lacrosse coach, Jim Nagle, said after a devastating 17-16 overtime loss against Albany in the America East semifinals at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium Thursday night. “He’s clearly earned it, he’s the best player in the country, showed it tonight.”

The Seawolves did not lose their final game of the season in front of a raucous home crowd of 1,683, but one of the leading candidates to receive the award for most outstanding college lacrosse player, junior attacker Lyle Thompson, stole it with little time to spare.

As the clock ticked down in regulation time of a long and exciting game, Stony Brook was on the verge of a massive four-goal comeback win over conference-favorite Albany when the Great Danes made a play that, quite frankly, no goalkeeper in the country could stop.

With 12 seconds left, the nation’s leader in points calmly waited for the Seawolves to flock to him behind the net, until he realized they were not coming. “I had my hands free, I felt like I had three seconds there to get a shot off, and I kind of just put it where I wanted,” Thompson said.

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Three seconds was all he needed, and the two teams were headed to overtime at 16 goals apiece.

Freshman Kyle Rowe, who has been phenomenal all year for the Seawolves and was just the same against Albany, going seven of eight in the fourth quarter and overtime, won the opening faceoff of the winner-takes-all period. After a series of passes, sophomore first team All-America East selection Challen Rogers made a move to the goalie’s right, releasing a shot that was saved by Albany sophomore Blaze Riorden.

Mere seconds later, the door shut on the Seawolves’ season as senior captain Doug Eich, a player plagued by shoulder injuries, took a pass from none other than Thompson at point blank range and ended the contest.

One could say that in a season during which young men tried to find themselves in hopes of making the America East tournament, grown adults came out the other side of a truly thrilling game, albeit a loss.

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“I was really proud of our team tonight, we’ve been struggling to be a team all year, and I thought at the most pivotal time, we showed that we were a great team tonight,” Nagle said.

Right out of the gate, Stony Brook showed flashes of what happened in a 17-7 loss at Albany earlier in the season. Five different players scored in a strong first quarter for the Seawolves, who took a 5-2 lead into the second. Albany, the leading offensive team in the country, was not going anywhere, dominating the middle 30 minutes with a score of 13-6. Down 15-11 with momentum in favor of the great Danes, the curtains were close to dropping on Stony Brook’s tournament lives.

A pulse of defensive energy shot through the Seawolves, leading to an offensive surge with just over 10 minutes to go in the game. Albany barely saw the ball during a 5-0 run for the Seawolves, which was started and ended by junior Mike Andreassi. 3:34 was all that stood between Stony Brook and the conference finals, but it was not to be, as pouring rain dropped following the shutting of the lights at LaValle.

Andreassi and sophomore Matt Schultz led the way for Stony Brook with three goals each. Schultz, a leading attacker for the Seawolves all season long, tallied two assists as well in the loss.

Freshman Hayden Johnstone, who did not start until the middle of the season, proved his worth, contributing 13 phenomenal saves on 30 attempts against the Great Danes.

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Nagle emphasized that this was not the last the America East will see of the Seawolves.

“We’re a young, young team, so we’ve got a lot of games to play,” he said.

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