In their first game since last year’s cancelation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Stony Brook men’s lacrosse team looked as good as ever as they beat the Sacred Heart Pioneers by a final score of 20-8 on Saturday, Feb. 13.
The Seawolves came out of the gate red hot, scoring first and running up eight unanswered goals after a 1-1 tie before the Pioneers could catch their breath. Bolstered by early dominance in the faceoff game, junior FOGOs Austin Deskewicz and Renz Conlon combined for 21 of their 27 faceoffs to give the Seawolves every opportunity to capitalize.
Led by Stony Brook native and Maryland transfer redshirt-freshman attacker Dylan Pallonetti’s six goals and an assist in his Seawolves debut, the offense fired on all cylinders throughout the game. SUNY Maritime graduate transfer attack/middie Matt DeMeo also got involved, notching a hat trick in his debut as well. Senior attacker Cory VanGinhoven also ran the offense with a hat trick in both goals and assists to help charge the offense.
The senior captains, Tom Haun and Chris Pickel Jr. each added two goals, redshirt-senior midfielder Wayne White dished out two assists, the foursome of junior midfielder Matt Anderson, senior midfielder Mike McCannell, sophomore attacker Will Button and senior defenseman Devin O’Leary all added goals as well.
“It was great to be back out there and playing another team for the first time in a while,” Pallonetti said in a postgame press conference with The Statesman. “I want to thank my teammates. They supported me the whole way, and it was a team effort today.”
Even though the offense controlled the game, the defense stepped up when they were needed to. Allowing only 32 shots to the Seawolves’ 55 (and even more impressively only allowing 16 of those shots on goal) with 23 successful clears, the defense made life easy for junior goalie Anthony Palma. Palma rewarded those efforts with a solid 50% save rate on his shots.
“My defense played phenomenal and I have no complaints,” Palma said. “Every single one of them played their hearts out. They never let up their intensity and they played great.”
Head coach Anthony Gilardi was happy to see his guys back out on the field, something that he recognized was never a guarantee.
“It’s been interesting,” Gilardi said. “A lot of credit goes to people like our administration, our doctors, our athletic trainers, putting together a plan to get back out there. That was the biggest thing, that there was a plan. I think we saw a light at the end of the tunnel, and obviously we are hopeful that a lot of things will continue to fall the right way. That part was great. And our coaches and our plan was to view every opportunity we have with these guys as our last, so let’s make sure that we’re maximizing everything we can.”
Gilardi praised his players’ mental toughness in dealing with the pandemic and preparing for the season.
“A lot of credit goes to our guys,” he said. “They practiced a ton this fall and we are very fortunate that they did the right things off the field to allow us to get out here. And today was kinda the culmination of almost a year of pent-up aggression. You just got to go out there and play somebody else, especially in sports like lacrosse where there are usually scrimmages in the fall and spring. But this was our first time looking at somebody else, and we were definitely ready for it.”
Gilardi also noted that while the final score was great, the team has work to do to keep up the energy and momentum of their opening victory going into the season. They will have another week to work on that before their next game, when the Bryant Bulldogs come to Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium on Saturday, Feb. 20.