Senior attackman Ryan Bitzer in a game against Fairfield on March 4. ANNA CORREA/THE STATESMAN

Senior attackman Ryan Bitzer in a game against Fairfield on March 4. Bitzer had a hat trick against Hartford. ANNA CORREA/THE STATESMAN

The Stony Brook men’s lacrosse team has struggled in each opening period this season; they combined to have been outscored 20-12 in the first quarter through the first seven games.

But senior attackman Ryan Bitzer made sure to curb that trend Sunday afternoon against Hartford, as he recorded a hat trick in the first quarter of play.

The playmaker recorded four total goals on the day and the Stony Brook men’s lacrosse team downed the reigning America East Conference Champions by a score of 13-9 at Hartford’s Al-Marzook Field for its first conference win this season.

Spinning off a defender to create some space, the flashy attackman went high and shot a laser past the right shoulder of junior goalkeeper Ryan Vanderford. The captain marked the score at 8-3 less than five minutes into the third quarter, giving the Seawolves their largest lead of the day.

Bitzer, the leading scorer of the game, netted four of his six shot attempts, leading his team to a win that ended a three-game losing skid. Stony Brook currently stands at an overall record of 5-3 and 1-1 in conference play.

The Seawolves offense has ignited in the second half all season long. Coming into this game, the Seawolves have scored 51 of their 82 total goals in the second half.

However, this game was different from the rest, as Stony Brook took the lead early and did not look back, recording their sixth consecutive win against Hartford.

Freshman goalkeeper Michael Bollinger replaced junior goalkeeper Brandon Maciejewski in the loss against Hofstra Tuesday night. Bollinger recorded six saves in 34 minutes of play and was given the first start of his career against Hartford. Bollinger took advantage of the opportunity in between the pipes, registering 10 saves on the day.

The chance of a comeback looked slim, until the Hawks scored back-to-back goals in less than a minute in the fourth quarter.

Coming from behind the net, junior attackman Justin Huggins made a shot while falling directly in front of the crease with two defenders in his way at the 11:11 mark in the fourth quarter.

With 10:20 left to play, Hartford junior midfielder Griffin Feiner recorded his second goal on the day with a low bounce shot that sailed right past Bollinger.

As each side tallied another goal, the deficit stood at three with 2:34 remaining in the game. Overall, Hartford won the faceoffs 13-12, but senior midfielder Jay Lindsay won the most important one of the day for Stony Brook after the Hawks began to build momentum late.

Lindsay provided Stony Brook with some breathing room after defeating junior midfielder Dylan Protesto, who fell to the ground, in a faceoff. With a clear path ahead of him, Lindsay was able to score with ease as he approached the middle of the crease. The possession lasted just six seconds and extended Stony Brook’s lead back to four, crushing any chance of a comeback for the Hawks.

The Seawolves will head home this week for more America East Conference action after going 1-1 on their two-game road trip when they host Albany at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium this Saturday, April 1 at 7 p.m..