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Stony Brook men’s lax overcomes slow start for fourth straight win

Kevin Mack attempting a shot during the game against Rutgers on March 5. The Seawolves scored 13-11 UMBC on April 23, securing their fourth winning game in a row. ETHAN TAM/THE STATESMAN

Led by a career day from attackman Kevin Mack, what looked to be a daunting task was completed with ease.

The Stony Brook men’s lacrosse team watched the UMBC Retrievers build up a five-goal lead by the middle of the second quarter, but an elite performance at the faceoff X and the X position secured the 13-11 road win on Saturday, April 23.

Stony Brook (9-4, 4-1 AE) won its fourth straight game; the Seawolves remain eligible to clinch a share of the regular season championship in their final America East season. 

“When it was 6-1, we had a choice to make on what we are all about as a team and a program,” head coach Anthony Gilardi said in a press release. “Culture is not about when it’s sunny and 70. You see your culture when you get punched in the face and had a choice to make.”

Mack ended with nine points on six goals and three assists, setting new career highs in both goals and points while falling one shy of tying his personal assist record. While playing for the Michigan Wolverines, Mack had a five-goal game against Marquette as a freshman in 2018 and a seven-point game versus Drexel in 2019.

The Seawolves’ playmaker made it happen from all angles, whether it be by cutting from behind the net, rocketing a long-range bounce shot, in transition from afar or while falling to the ground. 

UMBC (4-6, 2-3 AE) led by five as Stony Brook missed nine of its first 10 shot attempts, while the Retrievers converted on six of their first eight shots on goal. Freshman goalkeeper Jamison MacLachlan, who was handed the start for the second straight game after his impressive debut against Binghamton last week, overcame a shaky start to finish with 14 saves and a .560 percentage. 

From that point on, the Seawolves locked down on all fronts and took control of the contest with a 12-1 run that spanned parts of three quarters. The only score that Stony Brook allowed in this span came after it had taken the lead back as UMBC cut it to a one-goal game, but the Retrievers’ momentum was short-lived when the Seawolves continued to distance themselves on the scoreboard.

Over a nearly 30-minute span, faceoff specialist Austin Deskewicz won 14 consecutive faceoffs for the Seawolves, a key contributor to their onslaught of goals that won them the game. Throughout the entire afternoon, Deskewicz was 20-for-28, setting a new career high in wins at the circle.

“We couldn’t be more excited for the toughness and togetherness we displayed. Kevin and Austin stepped up. Defense played great and Jamo was really good in the cage and in the clearing game,” Gilardi said.

Coming out of halftime, attackman Noah Armitage converted the man-up opportunity — assisted by Mack — to tie the game at six, and Mack immediately followed with his fourth goal of the afternoon as Stony Brook held a lead for the first time. This came amid seven unanswered scores for the road team.

Near the end of the third quarter, the Seawolves overcame a one-minute cross-check penalty when defender Michael Sabella picked up a ground ball off a UMBC turnover and fed Mack for the noteworthy man-down goal.

Midfielder Wayne White put the bow on the scoring for the Seawolves with 9:46 left to make it a 13-7 contest. The Retrievers scored three times in the final minute, including twice in the last 14 seconds, to make the final score look more respectable. However, the two-goal margin of victory was not indicative of how Stony Brook dominated all aspects since going down big early.

Given how both of the Seawolves’ games last season against the Retrievers ended in hard-to-swallow overtime losses, Saturday’s win was a welcome revenge tour in the team’s penultimate outing of the 2022 campaign.

In the regular season finale, Stony Brook will return to Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium next Saturday for an opportunity to take down Vermont, ruin the Catamounts’ perfect conference season and claim a piece of the trophy for itself.

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