Though the Stony Brook men’s lacrosse team made a bid for a comeback, its fate was sealed in the third quarter.
The Seawolves (6-6, 3-2 CAA) let the opportunity for a massive upset slip away when they lost 12-9 to the No. 15/16 Delaware Blue Hens on Saturday at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium. Stony Brook dug itself too deep of a hole with a stagnant third quarter, but made things interesting in the final frame before having the final nail put into its coffin.
After taking a 7-4 lead into halftime, Delaware midfielder Nick Jessen started the second half with a bang. Jessen slipped one past goalkeeper Jamison MacLachlan to give the Blue Hens a four-goal cushion.
Stony Brook had its chances, but it turned the ball over six times in the third quarter, including twice on failed clear attempts. The Seawolves went into a slump from the field as well, sending four of their six shots wide of the net. Though their defense held its ground, anchored by three athletic saves from MacLachlan, their struggles on attacking sets allowed Delaware to ultimately run away with it.
Over six and a half minutes after Jessen’s goal, Delaware defender Owen Grant put the team on his back to further bury Stony Brook. With Stony Brook in the offensive zone, Grant stripped the ball out of attackman Dylan Pallonetti’s stick and scooped up the ground ball to regain possession for the Blue Hens. Grant raced about 50 yards downhill, slipped through two Stony Brook defenders and fired one past MacLachlan and into the back of the net.
Over three minutes later, after Stony Brook turnover, Delaware attackman Tye Kurtz looped around the cage and flung one under MacLachlan and in to make it 10-4 Blue Hens.
Head coach Anthony Gilardi attributed Stony Brook’s poor ball control for its third-quarter struggles.
“They had the ball the whole time,” Gilardi said in a postgame interview with The Statesman. “We failed to clear it two times there, we lost a bunch of faceoffs. I think it was more just the ball. I remember us having it really only two times in that stretch there.”
As the third quarter wound down, midfielder Noah Armitage snapped Delaware’s scoring streak with his second goal of the day. Delaware was unfazed by the goal, as defender Reed Kurtz responded with one of his own just four minutes into the final frame.
Just under two minutes later, attackman Jonathan Huber absorbed a hit from behind and scored through it to spark a rally. One minute later, Pallonetti shook off Grant with a nasty spin move and fired one past Delaware goalkeeper Matt Kilkeary to cut Stony Brook’s deficit down to four goals.
Over two minutes later, Stony Brook moved the ball into Delaware’s zone again, but was met with some tough defense from the Blue Hens. After recovering a couple of ground balls to maintain possession, Huber scooped up a bounced pass from attackman Blake Behlen and rifled one past Kilkeary.
Stony Brook won the next faceoff and capitalized on the opportunity, as Pallonetti completed a hat trick by turning around and shooting one past Grant and Kilkeary to make it a two-goal game.
Pallonetti’s goal caused Delaware head coach Ben DeLuca to call a timeout. After that, Stony Brook’s luck ran out. Faceoff specialist Robbie Smith turned the ball over after winning the ensuing faceoff, and Grant successfully cleared the ball to Delaware midfielder Jason Kolar. Exactly one minute after Pallonetti’s third goal, Kolar put the game away with one of his own.
Both teams went scoreless over the final 3:48, handing Stony Brook its second-straight loss. Gilardi attributed the loss to the number of inopportune mistakes.
“I think anytime you lose it’s disappointing,” Gilardi said. “I think it’s one of those things where we have to continue to develop. When you play good teams, your mistakes get magnified and that’s what we showed today.”
To Gilardi’s point, Stony Brook was -11 in turnover differential. The team gave the ball away 21 times while Delaware committed only 10 turnovers. Luckily for the Seawolves, they won 15 of the 25 faceoffs, allowing them to generate the same number of shots as the Blue Hens. Still, Delaware was more accurate, landing eight more shots on goal (27) than Stony Brook (19).
Ground balls helped Stony Brook stay in it until the end, as it scooped up two more than Delaware on the afternoon.
MacLachlan was integral in keeping Stony Brook alive. MacLachlan saved 15 shots he faced, which was good for a 55.6% save percentage. Kilkeary was good in the cage as well, saving 52.6% of Stony Brook’s shots on goal.
MacLachlan credited the defense around him for his performance.
“We were very prepared for what we were going to see on defense.” MacLachlan said. “I feel like our defense gave up shots that I wanted to see a lot of the time. It just helps when my defense plays that well, it makes my job a lot easier.”
Smith had a career day, winning nine of his 14 faceoff opportunities. Faceoff specialist Declan Mitchell went 6-for-11 in that area.
Gilardi spoke glowingly of Smith and the role he played in the comeback attempt.
“I think we’ve got a lot of confidence in Robbie,” Gilardi said. “We knew if we gave him a chance today that we felt really good about it. He’s like a junkyard dog; when it’s a battle, he’s the guy you want out there and he did a fantastic job. Got us back in the game for sure.”
Pallonetti led the team with three goals and is now up to 40 this year. Behlen co-led the team with three points, scoring one goal and dishing out two assists. Midfielder Will Button added a goal and an assist. Armitage and Huber both scored two goals each.
Midfielders Matt Anderson and Sean Carlo both got their names on the scoresheet with one assist apiece.
Long stick midfielder Christian Lowd had a huge day on defense, causing three turnovers and scooping up a team-leading nine ground balls.
Stony Brook will look to get back in the win column next Saturday when it hosts the Fairfield Stags. Opening faceoff is scheduled for noon. The Stags are currently 4-8 and 2-3 in the CAA after beating Monmouth 15-14 on Saturday.