On Saturday, the Stony Brook men’s lacrosse team was given a chance to avenge its heartbreaking overtime loss to the Albany Great Danes in last year’s championship game. While the Seawolves showed positive signs of competitiveness against the reigning champs, they were unable to find a lead and lost, 17-15.
“Hats off to them. They are the defending champs of the league. I think we have a real strong team and leadership but they got into that and rattled us a little bit,” Stony Brook Head Coach Jim Nagle said of the game.
With the starting face-off just minutes away, rain came down at Kenneth P. LaValle stadium leaving the field slick and wet. Players lined up and readied themselves for the first whistle. A few moments later, the first goal was scored.
A quick win by Albany in the faceoff circle provided Lyle Thompson with the ball and a clear path to Stony Brook’s zone. In a matter of seconds, Thompson advanced the ball, spotted a teammate located backdoor of the Seawolves goal and weaved a pass to his teammate Connor Russell, who then put it away eight seconds into the game.
“Oh yeah, he is an unreal player. All you can really say about that,” Stony Brook’s Brody Eastwood said of Thompson.
The quick sequence by Thompson and Russell seemed to startle the Seawolves, who had trouble adjusting to the aggressive play of the Great Danes. The Danes’ aggressive mentality would lead Albany to an 11-6 edge early in the third quarter.
It was at this point that junior midfielder Mike Rooney kick started the Seawolves by scoring an unassisted goal and signaling the start of a run that brought the game even. The offensive run had Stony Brook outscoring Albany 7-2 and ended the third quarter tied 13-13. Rooney would finish the game with five goals and four assists, totaling nine points on the day.
“We started to play our offense while in the first half we weren’t clicking, we weren’t playing our game. The second half we started to do that and take it possession by possession, one goal at a time,” Rooney said of their comeback after a slow start.
Unfortunately, the comeback ended with the third quarter and as the fourth quarter began, Albany was on the man advantage. It was this penalty that do allowed the Wildcats to score two goals that doomed the Seawolves.
Stony Brook would cut the deficit to one goal for a few minutes, but was never able to tie it up again. Instead, Albany played stiff defense and kept a two-goal cushion for most of the quarter.
Eastwood had himself a nice game, hitting the back of the net four times and scoring four of Stony Brook’s first six goals. He now has 19 goals this year and is on pace to match his personal career-high single-season record of 44 goals.
Even with the performances from Rooney and Eastwood, it was Albany’s midfielder Thompson who stole the show Saturday afternoon. From the first whistle to the last, he was the best player on the field. While scoring only two goals, he set up nearly every other goal, adding ten assists to his stat line and completed the day with 12 points.
“We are a much better team than we have been and one of the things I know about this team, the leadership is tremendous. So I know we are going to work and get better as the season goes on,” Nagle said, “We are going to be a better team next week and the week after that. The future is bright.”
Stony Brook will look to get better and rebound from its conference opening loss on Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m.. The game will be played at LaValle Stadium against the UMBC Retrievers.