The Stony Brook men’s lacrosse team nearly squandered a 7-0 lead against the Robert Morris Colonials at home on Saturday, but the Seawolves (2-0) rallied to win 18-14 even after the Colonials (0-3) tied the score at halftime.
Goalkeeper Anthony Palma was spectacular, outside of the six second-quarter goals he allowed. He finished with a career-high 17 saves and made several highlight-reel plays in the fourth quarter as snow flurried onto the field.
Attackers Noah Armitage and Dylan Pallonetti and midfielder Mike McCannell all had hat tricks.
“We had a good scout on Robert Morris. They’re a great team,” Armitage said in a postgame press conference. “We knew they were going to be coming out hard, so we just had to match that and come out harder.”
Stony Brook took nine shots in the first 10 minutes of the game and scored on seven of them, with two goals coming from Pallonetti. The team added 11 ground balls and won seven consecutive faceoffs in that time frame to prevent the Colonials from taking a single shot.
“I think the guys were just mentally ready to play,” head coach Anthony Gilardi said. “They were buzzing around in pregame and then in the huddle. I think that’s the key. When things are going well, we’re executing simple plays.”
The game transformed once attacker Taggart Clark scored Robert Morris’ first goal. He launched a 7-0 Colonials run that tied the score and extended through the final minutes of the second quarter. Palma made eight saves in that span but was left out to dry by a Stony Brook defense that could not complete a clear. The Seawolves’ offense missed eight shots during the run.
“We just couldn’t make a play to settle us down, and that was the frustrating part,” Gilardi said. “I joke I haven’t slept in a week. [Robert Morris] is the craziest thing to prepare for because it’s all face dodges, underneath, dives.”
“We felt like we got off the gas a little bit and kind of got away from our game plan,” McCannell said.
With three minutes remaining in the half, Armitage caught a pass from attacker Kevin Mack in midair just feet away from the net, and fired downward to put Stony Brook up 8-7.
“It’s a credit to my teammates to find me inside,” Armitage said. “I understand streaking to the net, always, and they’re able to find me.”
The Seawolves slowed down the pace in the third quarter, but only because they were finally able to extend possessions and capitalize on turnovers. That allowed the team to go on a 5-0 run highlighted by a goal from Mack that came after two minutes spent in front of the Colonials’ goal.
Robert Morris midfielder Elliot Holden cut Stony Brook’s lead to three by plowing through a Seawolves defender to score unassisted. Stony Brook, though, held on by winning two of the final three faceoffs. The tripping foul Mack drew with five minutes remaining certainly helped matters.
Gilardi was impressed by his team’s performance after some missed opportunities in the season opener.
“Besides the second quarter, execution was much better,” Gilardi said. “We still got to continue to shoot the ball a little better and some of the good looks we had, but I thought that part was a step up.”
Stony Brook will take part in the Long Island Cup at Hofstra University this weekend with a match against St. John’s.