It took four seconds for junior midfielder Jay Lindsay to win the opening face-off, dart up field in an uncontested lane and dish left to fellow junior midfielder Ryan Bitzer, who buried Stony Brook’s first goal of the season.
The early offensive barrage continued, as senior attack Brody Eastwood followed with two quick goals at the top of the crease in the Seawolves’ 17-8 season opening win over the Sacred Heart Pioneers Tuesday at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium.
After Sacred Heart responded with a goal of their own, Eastwood would kick-start a 6-0 Stony Brook onslaught with another score off of a feed from senior midfielder Challen Rogers, the Canadian pair’s second connection of the game.
Polished play from eight returning starters produced a 10-2 Seawolves lead at the end of the half.
“We have a lot of returners back, a lot of seniors too,” Eastwood said. “It’s nice to know what’s going on right away. Our freshmen year, we had nine [freshmen] starters.”
“Our chemistry is definitely better because we’ve been starting, or playing together since freshmen year. It helps,” Rogers added.
It took just seven minutes for Eastwood, who finished the day with six goals and a career-high three assists, to record his first hat trick of the season. Fresh off a team-leading 62-goal season on a NCAA Division I leading 63.9 shot percentage, Eastwood is now 24 goals away from eclipsing Jordan McBride’s Stony Brook career goal record of 175.
Both Eastwood and Rogers were drafted to Major League Lacrosse last year. Eastwood was picked up by the local New York Lizards, coached by Stony Brook women’s lacrosse head coach, Joe Spallina, but is heading back north after making a commitment to a local indoor league team. Rogers was drafted by the Boston Cannons, but remains indecisive about his choice to play.
Despite records in reach and the prospect of playing professional lacrosse, the Canadian duo is adamant about focusing on this season, and reaching the NCAA tournament for the first time in their collegiate careers.
“Getting out of the America East finally would be nice for the last year, for sure, so I’m just focused on the season,” Eastwood said.
With the game in check, Seawolves head coach Jim Nagle used the second half as an opportunity for a number of players to gain experience, issuing seventeen substitutions.
“We had a lot of kids out there early, and some young kids out there early in the game,” Nagle said. “We’re trying to commit to that early in the season, so we can get these guys the experience. I felt like we lacked some depth at the end of last year, and that, combined with some injuries, took the steam out of out season.”
Nagle’s ball-movement-heavy offense and Stony Brook’s depth were on display as seven different players added to the scoreboard.
Bitzer ended with five points on three goals and two assists, while three junior midfielders — Alex Corpolongo, Jeff Reh and Mark Ellis — each found the back of the net twice.
Senior UMass transfer Zach Oliveri started the game in net, notching four saves on six shots.
Sophomore Brandon Maciejewski played a majority of the second half. Nagle has not made an official commitment to either goalie as the permanent starter.
Stony Brook hosts St. John’s this Sunday with hopes of rectifying last year’s heartbreaking loss, which spurred from a late 7-0 St. John’s run.
“The last two seasons, [St. John’s] out-toughed us in both games,” Nagle said. “They scored 10 goals to our zero in the fourth quarter, if you combine both years.”