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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


Stony Brook men’s lacrosse falls in CAA title game to No. 19 Delaware

Defender Dan Newton (99) presses Delaware midfielder Brendan Powers on Saturday, April 15 while goalkeeper Jamison MacLachlan (22) prepares for a save attempt. The third-seeded Stony Brook men’s lacrosse team lost to the top-seeded Delaware Blue Hens on Saturday. TIM GIORLANDO/THE STATESMAN

Though it had a chance to get over the hump, the Stony Brook men’s lacrosse team’s championship drought has extended to 11 years.

In the 2023 Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) championship game on Saturday, the Seawolves (9-7, 5-2 CAA) came up short at the hands of the No. 19 Delaware Blue Hens. They made several bids for a comeback, but Delaware’s iron curtain of a defense never broke, handing them a 13-10 loss to end their inaugural CAA campaign. The Blue Hens will now advance to their second consecutive NCAA tournament as the 2023 CAA tournament champions after successfully defending their home turf.

Stony Brook played catch-up the whole game, which ultimately cost it in the end. Delaware jumped out to a 3-0 lead after goals from attackman J.P. Ward and midfielders Jason Kolar and Cam Acchione, respectively. The Seawolves got back into it after attackmen Blake Behlen and Dylan Pallonetti scored back-to-back goals to cut their deficit down to one. However, on the ensuing faceoff, a delay-of-game penalty on faceoff specialist Robbie Smith gave the Blue Hens a man-up opportunity.

Now with the top power-play and the best penalty-kill going face-to-face, Delaware attackman Tye Kurtz scored his first goal of the game. After that, head coach Anthony Gilardi substituted in faceoff specialist Renz Conlon and kept him there for the remainder of the game.

The move paid dividends, but not immediately. Ward restored Delaware’s three-goal lead with his second goal of the first quarter, and the Blue Hens took a 5-2 lead into the next period.

In the second quarter, Conlon helped Stony Brook shave a goal off Delaware’s lead. The Seawolves controlled the faceoff X, with Conlon winning five of the six opportunities in the quarter. Feeding off the possession dominance, midfielders Noah Armitage and Matt Anderson each scored a goal to cut the Blue Hens’ lead back to one. Conlon’s third-straight faceoff win gave Stony Brook a chance to tie, but midfielder Caleb Pearson’s low shot was kicked away by Delaware goalkeeper Matt Kilkeary.

Coming off Kilkeary’s save, Delaware found its way into Stony Brook’s zone. Defender Mikey Sabella picked up a minute-long penalty by lowering his shoulder and committing an illegal body check, giving the Blue Hens a shot at another power play. Ward capitalized on the opportunity and completed the first-half hat trick, giving his team a two-goal cushion.

With 4:52 left before halftime, Pallonetti slid a shot through the legs of Kilkeary to bring Stony Brook back within one goal. Conlon won the ensuing faceoff and took matters into his own hands, but Kilkeary dropped to his knees and deflected his shot away. After a successful clear, Kolar took the ball from the mid-field logo, set up a pick and roll to his left and rifled one top shelf to restore the two-goal lead.

From that point forward, Stony Brook never got back into it. Every time the Seawolves found themselves on the comeback trail, Kilkeary would deny them, or one of Delaware’s stout defenders would poke the ball out of their sticks. The first half ended with Kilkeary saving shots from midfielder Will Button and Pallonetti, keeping Stony Brook behind 7-5 by intermission.

The Seawolves continued to waste Conlon’s efforts in the third quarter, as he won all five faceoffs, but they only scored one goal. Delaware’s suffocating defense clogged shooting lanes and face guarded Stony Brook throughout the whole period, forcing it to shoot only 1-for-9 from the field while committing four turnovers. Four of the Seawolves’ shots missed the cage by wide margins, while the other four were stopped by Kilkeary. The only person that found space between Kilkeary and the net was Button, who scored a goal with just 5:08 remaining in the period.

By the time Button scored, Delaware had already added two to its lead with goals from Acchione and attackman Mike Robinson. Later in the frame, Delaware midfielder Nick Jessen undid Button’s efforts with his first goal of the afternoon, giving his team a 10-6 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Conlon continued to be a nightmare in the X for Delaware, as he won the first five faceoffs of the final frame. However, a costly turnover on the opening possession by Behlen from deep within Delaware’s zone set up a successful clear, which led to Ward’s fourth goal of the day. On the next possession, history repeated itself when Button committed a costly turnover around the Blue Hens’ goal crease. Robinson buried the Seawolves with another goal, putting Delaware up 12-6 with only 10:31 remaining.

Just 37 seconds later, Pallonetti completed a hat trick with his 50th goal of the season, but Stony Brook failed to do anything after Conlon won the following faceoff. Delaware held Stony Brook scoreless for almost the next three minutes before Kurtz put the game on ice with his second goal of the day.

Trailing by six goals against the CAA’s best defense with only seven minutes to play was too steep a hill for Stony Brook to climb. Conlon, Pallonetti and Behlen all scored during the remainder of the game, but three more turnovers and another save by Kilkeary put the final nail in their coffin.

After the game, Gilardi said that the program will use this loss as bulletin board material in the future.

“We have great kids, we have a great culture, we have guys that have bought in,” Gilardi said in a postgame interview with Stony Brook Athletics. “For us, the expectation is to compete and try to win the league every year. There is a process to success and getting here in year one is one thing, now we have to figure out what to do to get over that hump to win it and that’s the motivation.”

The game was evenly contested. Delaware had slight advantages in most statistical categories. The Blue Hens took only three more shots than Stony Brook and totaled only three more shots on goal. Delaware won the battle on the ground 27-25, but the Seawolves dominated the battle in the faceoff X 19-7. Turnovers were what ultimately killed Stony Brook, as it committed seven more turnovers (16) than Delaware (9).

Pallonetti led the team with four goals and added an assist. He and Delaware defender Owen Grant — the three-time CAA Defensive Player of the Year — went head-to-head all day in a highly anticipated battle. The two got chippy at times, but ultimately Grant walked away with the upper hand despite Pallonetti’s efforts.

Behlen scored two goals and led the team with two assists. Button, Armitage, Conlon and Anderson all scored one goal each. Anderson also dished out an assist.

Conlon had arguably the best day of his career. Along with his goal, Conlon won 17 of his 20 faceoff opportunities and picked up a team-leading 10 ground balls. He also landed all three of his shots on cage.

Sabella was second on the team with four ground balls. Defenders Sean Conk and Dan Newton each caused two turnovers to co-lead the team.

Goalkeeper Jamison MacLachlan’s efforts helped keep Stony Brook in it for the majority of the game. He saved 14 of the 27 shots he came his way, ending his season with a 52.0% save percentage.

Kilkeary was elite in the cage. He saved 14 of Stony Brook’s 24 shots on goal while also scooping up two ground balls and causing two turnovers. Delaware’s defense caused 11 turnovers overall, and defender Tate Wasson led the group with three.

Ward had the best day out of any player on offense, as he scored six total points with four goals and two assists. Kurtz tallied two of each, giving him four points on the day. Five different Blue Hens scored at least two goals.

With Stony Brook’s season now over, it will turn its attention to the offseason where it will likely lose several key pieces to graduation, such as Conlon, Anderson, Pearson and attackman Jonathan Huber.

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About the Contributor
Mike Anderson, Sports Editor
Mike Anderson is the Sports Editor at The Statesman. He is a senior majoring in journalism with aspirations of becoming a sports journalist. His love of sports comes from his time spent as a baseball player. As a reporter for The Statesman, he has covered baseball, softball, football, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s soccer, men's and women's lacrosse, women's volleyball and hockey. He has also interned at Axcess Sports as a high school and college baseball and softball reporter. He is a local product from Port Jefferson, N.Y. and is a diehard Mets, Jets, Nets and Islanders fan.
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