While a man-down, freshman long stick midfielder Ryland Rees forced a Hofstra turnover with 15 seconds left in the first quarter. Junior midfielder Jeff Reh hustled for the groundball, setting a series of seamless one-timer passes in motion. In a matter of seconds, trailing senior attackman Matt Schultz would find senior attackman Brody Eastwood at the crease for a score.
In perfect sync, the Seawolves had just scored shorthanded for their seventh goal of the quarter.
Everything was clicking for the Stony Brook Men’s Lacrosse team, handily claiming Long Island bragging rights with a 13-5 victory over No. 12 Hofstra on Tuesday night at Kenneth P. LaValle stadium.
Although the two teams had not met since 2009, Stony Brook would treat its Long Island matchup as a rivalry game.
“It’s always a rivalry game,” head coach Jim Nagle said about his first ever contest against Hofstra. “Pretty much everyone knows a Hofstra and Stony Brook alum if you live on Long Island.”
Senior midfielder Alex Corpolongo kick started the contest in signature fashion with a blistering overhead snipe from 15 yards out that found the back of the cage three minutes after the opening whistle.
In a span of just over four minutes, four different Seawolves would contribute to the scoreboard, a testament to Stony Brook’s ball-movement-heavy offense.
Within 45 seconds of each other, Eastwood and Schultz would each bury their respective first goals of the game, establishing an early 3-0 lead.
“Our offense is moving the ball to whoever is getting open,” Eastwood said. “Even if guys are keying on me, we’ve got Corp [Corpolongo] stepping down and rifling shots, Schultz, he’s always scoring. Everyone can score.”
Less than twenty seconds later, Eastwood scooped up a groundball near Hofstra’s cage as one defender pestered with continual stick checks. With two more defenders honing in, the Canadian immediately flipped a behind-the-back pass to a running Schultz in transition down the left side. Schultz followed with a contested flick to a cutting Reh near the crease, who responded with a shot fake and a goal, finalizing a highlight reel team effort.
Senior midfielder Challen Rogers, an unselfish player with a pass first mentality who often passes up his own scoring opportunities to feed others, added to the barrage with back-to-back unassisted goals. Two minutes after burying a 15-yard screamer, he would find the upper corner of the cage following a crafty dodge at the top of the crease that skirted a Hofstra defender.
“We love everybody to be pass-first,” Nagle said. “But we never have a problem with him shooting.”
The Seawolves’ shorthanded goal would soon cap off a seven goal first quarter.
“Not much coaching going on at that point,” Nagle said. “Guys just playing with one another, for one another. It’s great to see.”
Stony Brook’s defense, spearheaded by sophomore Ben Randall, played a near perfect first quarter. Hofstra would be shut out and attempt a mere five shots, while the Seawolves picked up 12 ground balls to the Pride’s five.
“Ground balls were huge tonight,” Eastwood said. “That was one of our main efforts we were working on in practice.”
Randall’s defensive assignment, Hofstra’s leading scorer, junior attackman Josh Byrne, was held in check. Byrne recorded no points on seven shot attempts, four of which were on goal.
“[Randall] covers the best player every game,” Nagle said about his defensive anchor. “I have no idea why people don’t know about him. He didn’t even make our All-Rookie team for the conference last year, and it’s like, there’s fourteen guys on it. I just don’t get it.”
Senior transfer goalkeeper Zach Oliveri looks increasingly comfortable in net as the season goes on. The Ronkonkoma native notched eight saves on the night, five of which came during the shutout first quarter.
Sophomore Brandon Maciejewski, who splits time evenly with Oliveri, added three saves of his own to close out the game.
“I think in years past we’ve always been good offensively and we’ve kind of struggled defensively,” Schultz said. “But this year we’ve got confidence all over the field. We’re a full, complete team.”
Coming off a seven point game against Rutgers, Schultz — who tallied three goals and two assists — scored twice in the third quarter, once via a rebound off of the chest of Hofstra’s goalie following a Corpolongo shot attempt.
After a four-goal performance, Eastwood now sits 15 goals away from eclipsing Jordan McBride’s Stony Brook career goal record of 175.
“I’m just being a garbage guy, honestly,” Eastwood said about his play. “Just standing in front and getting those opportunities.”
With his fourth hat trick on the season, Corpolongo now leads the team with 18 goals.
Stony Brook begins conference play and a three game road stint Saturday against division rivals, tenth-ranked Albany. The Great Danes have eliminated the Seawolves in the past three America East Championships.