Hat tricks by attackmen Jonathan Huber and Blake Behlen helped the Stony Brook men’s lacrosse team snag its second win of the season and get back to .500.
The Seawolves (2-2) remained at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium to take on the Sacred Heart Pioneers on Sunday. Second-half defensive struggles made the game competitive, but Stony Brook’s pair of veteran transfers allowed it to hang on for a 15-12 victory.
Stony Brook struck first when midfielder Noah Armitage assisted on a Huber goal just over three minutes into the game. Sacred Heart responded by scoring two quick goals to take the lead. Faceoff specialist Renz Conlon scored his first goal of the season to even things up, but the Pioneers responded again to take the lead back.
The Seawolves left the quarter on top, as a goal from Armitage and two more from attackman Dylan Pallonetti gave them a 5-3 lead.
Both teams hit a dry spell during the first eight minutes of the second quarter, with neither allowing the other to score. Sacred Heart attackman Jake Garb broke the stalemate by scoring his second goal of the day to make it 5-4.
After that goal cut Stony Brook’s lead to one, Behlen continued his dominance from Friday’s game. The transfer from Long Island University put up a hat trick in the second quarter, scoring three consecutive goals in a two-and-a-half-minute span.
Behlen credited his success to the team’s play design on Sunday.
“Honestly, we had some really good plays drawn up,” Behlen said in a postgame interview with The Statesman. “Whenever I had the ball, I went hard to the cage and we just made something work.”
After Behlen’s heroics gave Stony Brook a four-goal lead, Pallonetti tacked on one more to close out the first half.
In a back-and-forth third quarter, Huber scored his second goal of the game to give Stony Brook a 12-8 lead heading into the final frame. The goal was also the 100th of his NCAA career.
After scoring the first 95 goals of his career at St. John’s, Huber was proud to reach the milestone with Stony Brook.
“It’s pretty exhilarating,” Huber said. “I’m happy to do it as a Seawolf as well.”
Sacred Heart refused to go away quietly, scoring just 91 seconds into the fourth quarter to make it 12-9. Five minutes later, Huber scored his third goal of the day, which was promptly answered by Sacred Heart attackman Jake Ward.
To end Sacred Heart’s hopes of a rally, Pallonetti and midfielder Matt Anderson both scored within a minute of each other to take a 15-10 lead, putting the final nail in its coffin.
Head coach Anthony Gilardi attributed the win to Stony Brook’s early-game performance.
“When you play a quick turnaround game like this, it’s just about finding a way to win,” Gilardi said. “I think we made enough plays in the first half specifically to kind of guide us through, and I think we’re still looking for that consistency.”
Pallonetti led Stony Brook with four goals. After a career-best performance on Friday, he finished the weekend with 16 points and 10 goals. His performance earned him Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Offensive Player of the Week honors.
Behlen and Huber scored three goals each. Armitage scored a pair of goals while assisting another. Midfielder Derek Takacs scored the first goal of his NCAA career.
Anderson and attackman Will Button led the team with two assists each. Long stick midfielder Christian Lowd, attackman Ronnie Kraemer and defender Mikey Sabella all recorded one assist each.
Conlon led the team with nine ground balls. Sabella and Pallonetti scooped up four each. As a team, Stony Brook picked up 30 ground balls, which was two more than Sacred Heart.
Conlon had another great day while handling faceoffs, going 16-for-24 in his opportunities.
Although the Seawolves’ offense was productive in the win, their defense struggled. After Stony Brook allowed only four goals in the first half, Sacred Heart scored four in each of the final two quarters. Goalkeeper Jamison MacLachlan struggled in the cage, saving just 40% of the shots he faced.
Gilardi credited their struggles on defense to fatigue.
“I think we were just running out of gas, to be honest with you,” Gilardi said. “I think we were kind of going on fumes … Credit to [Sacred Heart] for playing hard.”
The Seawolves will look to tack on to their win streak on Saturday when they take on the Brown Bears at home. Opening face-off is scheduled for noon. The Bears are 2-1 on the season and are coming off a 22-12 victory over Vermont on Sunday.