In all the Stony Brook men’s lacrosse team’s losses this season, the Seawolves led in the first half but came undone with poor third-quarter performances. That trend continued on Saturday, March 19 when the Syracuse Orange came to town in front of an eye-popping 3,687 fans at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium.
“The third quarter has gotten away from us. I don’t know what it is,” head coach Anthony Gilardi said in a postgame press conference. “It’s something we have to continue to focus on as a program to get out of our own way.”
Attackman Dylan Pallonetti gave Stony Brook (5-3) a one-goal lead in the third quarter before the Seawolves were held scoreless for the next 24 minutes in a 14-9 defeat.
Syracuse (3-4) scored eight in a row after being down 6-5, winning six of seven face-offs in the third quarter and forcing 11 second-half Seawolves turnovers. The Orange’s leading scorer, midfielder Tucker Dordevic, was held to just one goal in the first half but rattled off five during Syracuse’s game-sealing run.
The Seawolves played with more physicality in the first half but made errors that prevented them from running away with it. Neither team led by over one goal until the Orange’s third-quarter blitz.
At the end of the first period, Stony Brook had a difficult time corralling a ground ball to secure a turnover. Syracuse midfielder Brendan Curry made the Seawolves pay, taking advantage of an unset defense to fire in a long-range goal with only two seconds left in the quarter to go up 4-3.
Stony Brook also converted just two of seven extra-man opportunities while Syracuse went 2-for-4, with Dordevic scoring both in 89 seconds during the third quarter.
“Tucker is two-handed and super athletic shooting it,” Gilardi said. “When he’s out there, it’s tough trying to slide as quick as we can because he’s really good at getting shots off. He’s definitely one of the best players in the country. We knew that going in.”
Stony Brook goalkeeper Anthony Palma and Syracuse goalkeeper Bobby Gavin combined to save 15 of 25 shots on goal in a low-scoring first half. Palma recorded 16 saves in total and still stopped 50% in the second half, but it wasn’t enough given how high-firing the Orange were.
“People finally played their balls off the whole game. They gave it all.” Palma said. “There are some shots that I definitely want back and that’s on me. I’m going to work to fix that.”
The Seawolves scored three goals in the final four minutes of the game, but by that point, it was too late.
“Things we needed to do [to beat Syracuse] was finish our shots,” midfielder Matt DeMeo said. “We held them to 14 goals, one of the higher-powered offenses in the NCAA, and it’s on the offense to perform.”
Syracuse found itself unranked for the first time since 2019 and the second time since 2012 because the Orange lost to unranked Johns Hopkins last Sunday. Both Syracuse and Stony Brook were receiving votes in the national polls, but the game was still a chance for the Seawolves to make a statement win after having lost to ranked Rutgers and Brown earlier in the month.
The Orange would not let that happen.
“We’re not really thinking about what anybody else thinks,” Dordevic said about potentially overlooking another unranked opponent. “We’re a really tight-knit team and we’re going to keep everything in-house in terms of how we feel and just focus on each other.”
With the most challenging non-conference opponents out of the way, Stony Brook has the heart of America East play to make something special as they look ahead towards the rest of the season.