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Faceoff and goalkeeping woes bite Stony Brook men’s lacrosse versus No. 11/14 Rutgers

Goalkeeper Tommy Wilk (right) controls a ground ball over Rutgers attackman Tanyr Krummenacher on Saturday, Feb. 5. Wilk made his NCAA debut on Saturday and saved 12 shots in 20 chances. BRITTNEY DIETZ/THE STATESMAN

Though it fought hard, one bad rut killed the Stony Brook men’s lacrosse team’s hopes of an upset.

It was a home opener to forget for the Seawolves (1-1), as they lost to the No. 11/14 Rutgers Scarlet Knights (2-0) 16-12 at Kenneth P. Lavalle Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Stony Brook made a bid for a comeback victory, but an early 6-0 run dug the hole too deep for it to fully get out of.

Through the first 11 minutes of the game, both sides exchanged just one goal. After that, the sky fell on the Seawolves and goalkeeper Jamison MacLachlan, who simply had nothing to slow down Rutgers’ offense.

After alluding a defender, attackman Ross Scott rifled one past MacLachlan’s right from 10 yards away to ignite a 6-0 run for the Scarlet Knights that Stony Brook never fully recovered from. Before the first quarter expired, midfielder Colin Kurdyla and attackman Tanyr Krummenacher each tacked onto their lead with goals of their own.

Rutgers played keep away through the first four minutes of the second quarter, winning the first four faceoffs and cashing in on the first three. Scott resumed the scoring spree just 11 seconds into the frame when he caught one on the doorstep from Krummenacher and ripped it under MacLachlan to make it 5-1. The Scarlet Knights continued to dominate with goals from midfielders Jack Aimone and Nick Teresky, pushing their lead to 7-1 with 12:16 left in the first half.

With 10 minutes left, the Seawolves broke their scoring drought with midfielder Noah Armitage’s second goal of the day off a dime from attackman Dylan Pallonetti, but that did not stop the bleeding. Just 33 seconds later, Aimone sniped one from 16 yards away past MacLachlan’s stick side to extend Rutgers’ lead to 8-2.

After that, head coach Anthony Gilardi pulled MacLachlan in favor of backup goalkeeper Tommy Wilk, who brought some energy to his team in his NCAA debut. After MacLachlan surrendered eight goals in nine chances, Wilk saved 12 of the 20 shots he faced. With Wilk in the cage over the final two and a half quarters, Stony Brook outscored the Scarlet Knights 10-8.

Gilardi had high praise for his performance.

“Tommy’s great; he puts the extra work in,” Girardi said in a postgame interview with The Statesman. “I think coming in off the bench is a skill, and Tommy is unflappable as a human, so I think that just makes him great to come in. Tommy made some big saves, so I’m proud of him.”

On Wilk’s first test, he redirected a shot from Rutgers midfielder Shane Knobloch. However, Knobloch got him back with 7:12 remaining in the second quarter to give the Scarlet Knights a seven-goal lead — their largest of the day.

After falling behind 9-2, Stony Brook ventured onto the comeback trail. The Seawolves pitched a shutout for the rest of the first half while attackman Justin Bonacci scored a pair of goals to cut their deficit down to five by halftime.

Coming out of the break, another save by Wilk opened the door for midfielder Jack Dougherty to shave another goal off the deficit. With Stony Brook now just four goals behind, Rutgers rode a 4-1 run that Krummenacher bookended with his second and third scores of the day. The stretch restored the Scarlet Knights’ seven-goal lead with 6:21 left in the third quarter.

Once again, the Seawolves began to climb back, as goals from Armitage, Pallonetti and Bonacci made it a 13-9 game with just 3:22 left in the third period. However, their penalty kill failed to stop Aimone, who ripped one past Wilk from the right wing to make it a five-goal game before the frame ended.

Now losing 14-9 in the fourth quarter, Stony Brook showed some more fight. Twice within the span of a minute, attackman Nick Dupuis vacated the X and slipped one past Rutgers goalkeeper Cardin Stoller to get within three possessions. With just eight and a half minutes left, attackman Blake Behlen played catch with Dupuis before finding Dougherty open on the right wing. From the right hash mark, Dougherty fired one over Stoller’s helmet and into the back of the net.

Now with just two goals separating both sides, Aimone came back down the field on the ensuing possession, dodged several Seawolves and chucked one over Wilk’s right shoulder and in.

After getting some extra cushion, the Scarlet Knights’ defense woke up. Over the remaining 7:20 of the game, Stoller stoned Pallonetti, Armitage, Behlen and midfielder Ryan Barker to keep Stony Brook off the scoreboard. Rutgers’ end line helped Stoller out by blocking shots from Pallonetti and Dupuis during the finishing stretch.

With the Seawolves mustering nothing up on offense, the Scarlet Knights put the game away with just over a minute remaining on a goal from midfielder John Sidorski.

Stony Brook was dominated in the possession battle, winning only 11 of the 32 (34.4%) faceoff opportunities and losing the battle on the ground 41-29. Faceoff specialist Robbie Smith went 11-for-23 on faceoffs, while fellow faceoff specialists Declan Mitchell and Chris Esposito combined to go 0-for-9.

Though the Seawolves did not have the ball as much, they were only outshot 43-41. Dupuis led the team with five points, scoring a pair of goals while co-leading the team alongside Behlen with three assists. Armitage and Bonacci both posted hat tricks, while Pallonetti scored a pair of goals and picked up one assist. Dougherty finished with two goals. Smith, midfielder Will Button and defender Riley Hegarty all dished out one assist apiece.

Given the productivity of Stony Brook’s offense, Armitage is not concerned with the loss.

“Each game is about us,” Armitage said. “If we execute our game plan, we should come out successful. We played three quarters today. If we can piece together four, I honestly believe we’re golden.”

Smith led the Seawolves with five ground ball pickups, followed by Bonacci with four. Defender Mikey Sabella and long stick midfielders Christian Lowd and Gerald Filardi Jr. each caused one turnover alongside MacLachlan and Hegarty.

The Seawolves will get their next taste of ranked competition next Saturday when they take on the No. 13/15 Pennsylvania State Nittany Lions at LaValle Stadium. The Nittany Lions are 1-1 this year after beating Villanova 18-10 on Saturday. Opening faceoff is scheduled for noon.

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