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Stony Brook men’s lacrosse outmatched by No. 16/17 UNC

Attackmen Nick Dupuis and Justin Bonacci celebrate a goal scored by defensive midfielder Ben Morschauser against Hampton on Saturday, March 2. Dupuis and Bonacci both tallied a goal and an assist each on Saturday against the University of North Carolina. BRITTNEY DIETZ/THE STATESMAN

In its third attempt to pull off an upset over a ranked opponent at home, the Stony Brook men’s lacrosse team failed once more.

The Seawolves (3-5, 1-0 CAA) were unable to uplift their fans on Saturday afternoon when they lost to the No. 16/17 University of North Carolina (UNC) Tar Heels (6-2) at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium. Yet again, Stony Brook proved to not be on par with the nation’s top competition and fell 12-8.

In their search for an upset, the Seawolves got off to a perfect start. Midfielder Jack Dougherty scored just 31 seconds into the game and a pair of defensive stops allowed attackman Dylan Pallonetti to double their lead with a goal of his own.

A caused turnover by defensive midfielder Dane Reda gave Stony Brook a chance to go up by three possessions, but it misfired twice and turned the ball over to keep UNC within two goals.

The Tar Heels flipped the momentum in their favor from the X, where attackman Logan McGovern avoided an incoming double team and found fellow attackman Owen Duffy open in the slot. Duffy put it past goalkeeper Tommy Wilk to get his team on the board. After UNC won the ensuing faceoff, Duffy dodged a defender and went top shelf over Wilk to tie the game with his second goal in 14 seconds.

Both defenses traded blows until the 2:58 mark of the first quarter when attackman Justin Bonacci put the Seawolves back in front. Just over a minute and a half later, the Tar Heels responded when attackman Dominic Pietramala caught a pass behind him and spun around to fling it over Wilk’s left shoulder to tie it again.

Within the first minute of the second quarter, Duffy completed the hat trick and put his team up 4-3. A minute and a half after falling behind for the first time, midfielder Noah Armitage caught a feed from behind the cage and flicked one past UNC goalkeeper Collin Krieg to knot it up with 12:35 left in the second quarter.

Head coach Anthony Gilardi was proud of the effort his players gave against a top-20 team in the nation.

“We’ve proven that we can play with anybody,” Gilardi said in a postgame interview with The Statesman. “I think the guys believe that, I think the coaches do a fantastic job of preparing the players. I think the guys buy into the game plan and play as hard as they can. When you watch us play, we don’t always play smart … but we play hard, play in and play out for 60 minutes.”

After tying the game at four apiece, the Tar Heels went on a 6-0 run spanning from the middle of the second quarter to the end of the third. The scoring spree was sparked by back-to-back goals from McGovern to end the first half. Just 49 seconds into the third quarter, Duffy scored his fourth goal of the day. After that, Pietramala found the back of the net twice, surrounding a goal from midfielder Lance Tillman.

During the daunting stretch, Stony Brook lost six consecutive faceoffs. The Tar Heels’ scoring streak made it 10-4 with just under six minutes left in the third period, but the Seawolves did not cut into that deficit until Pallonetti scored with just 19 seconds remaining.

Gilardi attributed the crushing run to a lack of possession.

“We’re 0-5 facing off in the second quarter,” Gilardi said. “I think that’s the difference. We just didn’t have the ball enough.”

Pallonetti’s goal was answered by UNC attackman Matt Wrede with 13:44 left in the game. Following another tally by Pallonetti, the Tar Heels undid his effort with a man-up goal from midfielder Ryan Levy to make it 12-6 with just over seven minutes remaining.

Stony Brook scored the final two goals of the game through solo efforts from long stick midfielder Christian Lowd and attackman Nick Dupuis, but they were not nearly enough.

Despite the defeat, Pallonetti remained optimistic with Coastal Athletic Association (CAA) play on the horizon.

“It was a good battle, good effort by the guys,” Pallonetti said. “Unfortunate that we lost, but I think we took a step in a positive direction with conference play coming up.”

The Seawolves came up short in most statistical categories. They won just seven of the 17 (29.2%) faceoff opportunities and turned the ball over 15 times compared to UNC’s 14. Stony Brook narrowly lost the battle on the ground 28-27 and was outshot 56-39.

Pallonetti led his team with three goals. Dupuis and Bonacci scored one goal and dished out one assist apiece. Dougherty, Armitage and Lowd all scored once, while midfielder Will Button also found the scoresheet with an assist.

Pallonetti and Lowd co-led the team with three ground balls. Lowd and defensive midfielder Ben Morschauser both caused two turnovers to pace the defensive unit. Reda, defender Sean Conk and defensive midfielder Dan Newton all finished with one caused turnover.

Wilk had another big game, as he saved 19 of the 31 shots he faced for a .613 save percentage. In the opposite cage, Kreig stopped 10 of the 18 (55.6%) shots he faced.

The Seawolves’ rising goalie attributed his success to his teammates in front of him.

“I want to give a bunch of credit to my close defense and my midfielders,” Wilk said. “All of the saves I make are a product of them. They do their job, which allows me to do mine. Without them, I’m nothing.”

For UNC, Duffy finished with four goals and an assist and Pietramala tallied a hat trick. McGovern netted two goals and added an assist.

Stony Brook will now solely focus on the CAA, as its nonconference schedule has officially wrapped up. First, it will face the Monmouth Hawks at LaValle Stadium next Saturday at noon. The Hawks are 3-4 overall this year after losing 12-11 to Villanova on Saturday and are 0-1 in conference play.

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