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Stony Brook men’s lacrosse falls to No. 9/10 Rutgers in season opener

Defensive midfielder Preston Kral in a scrimmage against Merrimack on Saturday, Jan. 28. Kral collected three ground balls last Saturday in the Stony Brook men’s lacrosse team’s season opener. BRITTNEY DIETZ/THE STATESMAN

Despite a career day from goalkeeper Jamison MacLachlan, a poor second quarter prevented the Stony Brook men’s lacrosse team from upsetting one of the best teams in the nation. 

The Seawolves (0-1) kicked off their 2023 season on Saturday in Piscataway, N.J. at the No. 9/10 Rutgers Scarlet Knights. In what was an evenly-contested game for three of the four quarters, a bad second frame proved to be the difference, leading to an 11-7 loss for Stony Brook.  

Head coach Anthony Gilardi was not discouraged by the loss, but sees room for improvement moving forward.

“I am disappointed about the outcome against a really good team,” Gilardi said in a postgame interview with Stony Brook Athletics. “I thought we left a lot of plays on the field, especially on offense and with extra man opportunities. The guys battled hard … We need to watch the film, learn from it, clean up some things and get back to work on Monday.”

Stony Brook struck first just under seven minutes into the game when midfielder Matt Anderson fired one past two defenders and into the back of the net. The Seawolves’ lead was erased four minutes later when Rutgers attackman Ross Scott went top shelf on a step-back shot for a goal, evening things up at one apiece.

Stony Brook regained the lead with 5:28 left in the first quarter after attackman Dylan Pallonetti scored. McLachlan set Pallonetti up with his goal by scooping up a ground ball and feeding it to him for the assist. The Seawolves’ lead lasted just over one minute, as Rutgers tied it up with a goal by midfielder David Sprock. MacLachlan did it all for Stony Brook in the opening quarter, tallying nine saves and the aforementioned assist.

Things spiraled out of control for Stony Brook during the second quarter. Four minutes and 16 seconds into the frame, Rutgers midfielder Jack Aimone fought off multiple Seawolf defenders before scoring the go-ahead goal. Just 36 seconds later, Rutgers tacked on another goal when attackman Dante Kulas rifled a shot past McLachlan. 

Exactly one minute later, Anderson scored his second goal of the game to keep the Seawolves within striking distance. Ultimately, his effort was not enough, as Aimone and Scott each added another goal within the next six minutes to give Rutgers a 6-3 lead. 

With just 24 seconds remaining in the first half, a turnover forced by the Scarlet Knights set up one final scoring opportunity before the break. With four seconds left, Sprock beat the buzzer and scored to give Rutgers a 7-3 lead heading into halftime.

Stony Brook’s offense was suffocated by Rutgers in the second quarter, as the unit only mustered up two shots on goal and turned the ball over seven times.

The game slowed down in the second half. Each team scored two goals in both the third and fourth quarters. Though they hung tough with a top 10 team, the Seawolves could not overcome their poor second quarter, leading to the loss.

MacLachlan shone brightly as he tended Stony Brook’s goal. He posted a new career-high day with 23 saves, helping the Seawolves keep their heads above water while the offense was struggling. 

McLachlan’s efforts loom even larger when looking at the statistical differences between the two teams. The Seawolves were outshot 49-32 and were -9 in turnover differential, which gave Rutgers extra scoring opportunities. Stony Brook only won six of its 21 faceoffs.

Despite the heavy statistical disadvantages, the Seawolves were never out of it, which is a testament to their goalie.

“JaMo [Jamison McLachlan] was fantastic in the cage,” Gilardi said.

During the second half, Anderson scored his third goal of the afternoon, giving him a hat trick on opening day. Of his seven shots, five of them landed on goal. Anderson also fielded three ground balls and an assist against Rutgers. 

Pallonetti was Stony Brook’s leading shot-taker with eight, two of which found the back of the net. Midfielder Noah Armitage added two points with a goal and an assist of his own.

In his Stony Brook debut, attackman Blake Behlen scored four points. In the third quarter, he scored his first goal of the season. He led the team with three assists. 

Defender Mikey Sabella led Stony Brook with four ground balls. Long stick midfielder Christian Lowd, midfielder Caleb Pearson and defensive midfielder Preston Kral all picked up three ground balls each.

After the loss, Stony Brook is no longer receiving votes in either of the two major national polls. The Seawolves will look to get back into national consideration on Saturday when they take on the Penn State Nittany Lions at noon. Penn State is 1-1 after losing to Villanova 14-12 on Sunday.

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