This Saturday, fans received their first glimpse of a restructured Stony Brook men’s lacrosse squad, as it hosted both Navy and Notre Dame at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium for offseason scrimmages.
Although the Seawolves outscored the Fighting Irish and fell to the Midshipmen, the day’s focus hardly fell on the final scoreboard. Rather, with the team’s roles yet to be solidified, head coach Jim Nagle was able to test out his new toys as he works to finalize his lineup.
“We lost that big senior class that scored all those goals. We’re just moving guys around and trying to figure it out,” Nagle said. “I think top to bottom we may be more athletic, but we’re just a little unseasoned and we’ve got a lot to work on, that’s for sure. It’s a good group and I like the way they responded today.”
Four of Stony Brook’s six leading scorers from the 2015-16 campaign graduated, including the program’s all-time leading scorer, Brody Eastwood, just one of five Seawolves to record over 200 career points, Challen Rogers and last year’s leading scorer, Matt Schultz.
Eastwood and Rogers, both Canadian natives and former roommates, were recently drafted into the National Lacrosse League, Major League Lacrosse’s indoor, faster-paced cousin. Rogers was the second overall pick, while Eastwood went in the third of six rounds.
Nagle said that this year’s offense will be run “more by committee. I don’t think you replace a Challen Rogers very easily. We’ll grow as a team.”
With a score of fresh faces rising through the team’s ranks receiving priceless experience, fostering a robust team chemistry was pegged at a premium.
“As a whole, just us working together, really creating that bond that we need for the season to start and try to make a run,” said senior attackman Ryan Bitzer, who tallied 41 points last season. “Just play together as a team, play as a family. That’s what we’re all about.”
While Nagle cites the attack position as the part of the field with the most kinks to work out, Bitzer will serve as a steady anchor on the front line.
Midfielders senior Alex Corpolongo — known for his outside sniping — senior Jeff Reh and sophomore Ryland Rees will spearhead a midfield unit that will play a more centralized role in a less down-low predicated offense.
“We’re trying to figure out the attack still and I think we’ll just be a different team with a lot of two-way potential,” Nagle said.
Defensively, the Seawolves are without second-team all America East player junior Ben Randall, who transferred to Ohio State, located in his home state.
With Randall gone, an already youthful defensive front is left with a void for an underclassman to fill.
Poised with the players and cohesion to make a deep-playoff run, last year’s men’s lacrosse squad fell short of expectations, dropping a semifinal America East Championships bout against Vermont.
This year, the goal remains the same: to hurdle the America East Championship hump and receive a berth in the National Championship Tournament, a feat that has not been met since 2010.
“We’re definitely working hard to get over that hump,” Bitzer said. “To get that America East [Championship].”