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Stony Brook men’s lacrosse upset by Air Force in overtime

Midfielder Ryan Barker (51) operates the offense from the X while attackman Nick Dupuis (15) looks on. Both players scored two goals at Air Force on Saturday. STANLEY ZHENG/THE STATESMAN

Despite getting off to a rip-roaring start, the Stony Brook men’s lacrosse team failed to beat one of the worst teams in the country.

The Seawolves (1-3) faced off with the Air Force Falcons (1-3) in Colorado on Saturday and failed to take care of business. Stony Brook’s offense was not able to find the back of the net when it mattered most, scoring just three goals in the second half en route to a 12-11 loss in overtime.

After attackman Dylan Pallonetti started the scoring just two minutes into the game, fellow attackman Nick Dupuis tacked on a pair of goals to go up 3-0 with 9:48 left in the first quarter. However, Air Force attackman Turner Ashby got his team on the board with his second goal of the year, followed by defender Chris Bardak and midfielder Mana Wilhelm to knot it up. Pallonetti and attackman Justin Bonacci restored the Seawolves’ lead with a goal apiece, but the Falcons cut the cushion in half with a tough finish through contact by midfielder Jake Mason.

Mason’s goal towards the end of the first quarter sparked a 4-0 run for Air Force that continued in the second. Attackman Caelan Driggs followed Mason with a pair of goals to take the lead before Ashby capped the streak with one of his own to go up 7-5. Stony Brook erased its deficit with back-to-back goals from Bonacci and Pallonetti before midfielder Collin Williamson put it in front with his second of the year.

The Seawolves took their 8-7 lead into halftime but failed to hold onto it afterwards. Both teams traded a goal back and forth through the entirety of the third quarter and the start of the fourth. With 8:06 left in regulation, Pallonetti unleashed a cannon from 25 yards out to give Stony Brook an 11-10 lead.

The Seawolves held their lead for over the next five minutes, but the Falcons finally leveled the game up with just 2:52 to play. A clean dodge in the right alley created enough room for Wilhelm to rip a low shot past goalkeeper Tommy Wilk to knot it up at 11 apiece, and both defenses held their ground to send the game to overtime.

At the start of the four-minute extra period, both Wilk and Air Force goalkeeper Nolan Parlette — who subbed in after halftime — kept their squads alive with a save each. However, Stony Brook had three more opportunities after Parlette’s stop to win the game.

With just 2:14 left, midfielder Jack Dougherty tried to play hero, but his shot was blocked. Pallonetti scooped up the ground ball to keep possession, but he rifled his second-chance shot over the cage. On the fourth try, midfielder Will Button coughed the ball up and the Falcons cleared it.

Now with the game clock ticking down to 12 seconds, Tolen raced down the left alley and beat Wilk down low with a left-handed shot to walk it off.

Head coach Anthony Gilardi pinned the loss on his team’s inability to capitalize.

“Really disappointed for our guys,” Gilardi said in a postgame interview with Stony Brook Athletics. “They fought hard; we just made too many little mistakes that caught up to us. We had plenty of opportunities to earn a win and just didn’t finish the plays all over the field. I have to do a better job of preparing us to execute in the moment.”

As they have for the entire season, the Seawolves lost the possession battle. They were trumped 33-20 in the battle on the ground and 16-10 in the faceoff circle. On the bright side, Stony Brook committed just 12 turnovers to Air Force’s 15.

The Seawolves created more scoring opportunities, outshooting the Falcons 43-38. Stony Brook landed 26 of its shots on goal, which was two more than Air Force.

Wilk played well in his first career start, ending with 12 saves and a .500 save percentage. Parlette saved the day for the Falcons, stopping six of the seven shots he faced after replacing goalkeeper Quinn Richards towards the end of the third quarter. Richards saved nine of the shots he faced but surrendered 10 goals.

Dupuis led the team with five points, scoring two goals while dishing out three assists. Pallonetti scored a season-high four goals. Bonacci and midfielder Ryan Barker each finished with two goals. Williamson scored once.

Button and defensive midfielder Garrett Gibbons both collected two assists. Dougherty and midfielder Richie Dechiaro each finished with an assist, as well.

Faceoff specialists Robbie Smith, Owen McIntee and Chris Esposito all got looks on Saturday. Esposito carried a bulk of the workload, going 8-for-20 (40%) while McIntee went 2-for-3 (66.7%). Smith lost all three of his chances.

Gibbons led the team with three ground balls and six others followed him with two: Dupuis, Pallonetti, Bonacci, Wilk, Esposito and long stick midfielder Christian Lowd. Gibbons led the team with two caused turnovers while Lowd and defender Riley Hegarty each finished with one.

The Seawolves will try to snap their three-game losing streak next Saturday at Kenneth P. Lavalle Stadium against the Hampton Pirates for its conference opener. Hampton is 0-4 this year after losing 14-7 to Queens University of Charlotte on Saturday. The Pirates will host Bellarmine on Tuesday before their matchup with Stony Brook.

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