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Stony Brook men’s lacrosse has tough task ahead versus Towson

Attackman Nick Dupuis surveys the field against Hampton on Saturday, March 2. Dupuis will be crucial for the Stony Brook men’s lacrosse team as it looks for an upset. BRITTNEY DIETZ/THE STATESMAN

Riding a ship that has seen a treacherous voyage, the Stony Brook men’s lacrosse team’s waters will not get any easier to navigate this weekend.

The Seawolves (3-6, 1-1 CAA) will travel to Maryland to take on the Towson Tigers (6-3, 2-0 CAA) on Saturday at noon. When the sides last matched up in 2023, Stony Brook overcame Towson in a 13-12 thriller on April 1.

The Seawolves’ goalkeeping situation has been indicative of the team’s instability this season. Goalkeepers Tommy Wilk and Jamison MacLachlan have both been benched in favor of each other at least once, leading to a lack of surety between the pipes.

Most recently, Wilk was benched at halftime against Monmouth in favor of MacLachlan after failing to save any of the seven shots that landed on cage. Still, Wilk is third in the Coastal Athletic Association (CAA) in save percentage (.546) and fifth in saves per game (10.38) in the league. Conversely, MacLachlan has a .438 save percentage in five appearances.

Stony Brook’s defense has not been any help, either. It ranks fifth out of nine teams in the conference with 11.78 goals allowed per contest. Some of its struggles on that end of the field are rooted in the Seawolves’ inability to make plays on the ball, as they rank sixth in the CAA with just 6.89 caused turnovers per game.

Defenders Mikey Sabella, Carson Forney, Sean Conk and Riley Hegarty have been rotated at the heart of the backline this year. Sabella leads the team with 12 caused turnovers and is sixth in the league with 1.33 caused turnovers per game. He has also picked up 17 ground balls.

Forney has caused seven turnovers and scooped up 19 ground balls. Conk and Hegarty are less active than their counterparts, as they have combined for four caused turnovers and 10 ground balls.

At any given time, Stony Brook’s defense is also cushioned by defensive midfielders Garrett Gibbons, Ben Morschauser and Dan Newton along with long stick midfielder Christian Lowd.

Lowd is second on the squad with 26 ground balls alongside eight caused turnovers. Morschauser is third on the team with 22 ground balls picked up. Gibbons has picked up 18 ground balls and caused six turnovers as a reserve.

Stony Brook’s endline will have to contend with the best offense in the CAA that averages 13.56 goals per game. The Tigers take the fourth-most shots (40.78) and land the on goal (24.67) per game in the conference.

Midfielder Mikey Weisshaar leads Towson with 26 goals. His 2.89 goals per game ranks third in the league, and his 11 assists paces his team. Behind Weisshaar is attackman Nick DeMaio, who has scored 18 goals and dished out 27 assists. DeMaio is second in the league and 10th in the nation with three assists per game.

Other attacking weapons for the Tigers include attackmen Joaquin Villagomez, Bode Maurer, Chop Gallagher and Alex Roussel. Villagomez is third on the team with 16 goals, followed by Maurer with 13, Gallagher with 12 and Roussel with 10. Additionally, Gallagher is eighth in the conference with one assist per game.

Midfielder Josh Webber is another contributor for Towson on the offensive end, as he has scored nine goals and dished out eight assists.

Despite one of the worst performances in recent program history in their last game, the Seawolves are more than capable of putting the ball in the net. They are just behind the Tigers in the CAA with 12.67 goals per game.

Stony Brook is a high-volume attacking team, as it attempts 41.78 shots per game and lands 24.33 of those on cage — both of which rank third in the league. The Seawolves rely heavily on the tandem of attackmen Dylan Pallonetti and Nick Dupuis.

Pallonetti leads Stony Brook with 28 goals and has added eight assists. He is second in the conference and tied for 10th in the nation with 3.11 goals per game. Dupuis leads the league and is fourth in the nation with 3.56 assists per game. Overall, he has posted 14 goals and 32 assists this season.

Midfielder Noah Armitage (16) and attackman Justin Bonacci (14) are the only other players on the Seawolves with a double-digit goal total. Off the bench, midfielder Ryan Barker has netted nine goals in as many games.

The Tigers’ defense is well-equipped to handle their opposing attack. Their 9.71 goals against average is the second-best mark in the CAA. Their endline is headed by defenders Conor Spagnolli, Joe Petro and Colby Barsz.

Spagnolli, Petro and defender Elijah Smith — who comes off the bench for Towson — have picked up 19 ground balls apiece. Barsz leads his team with 14 caused turnovers and is third in the conference with 1.56 per game. Spagnolli has racked up eight takeaways.

Off the bench, defensive midfielder Reece Potter leads all non-faceoff-specialists with 27 ground balls. Long stick midfielder Sam Morin has tallied 26 ground balls and nine caused turnovers.

Behind them, goalkeeper Luke Downs had started every game for the Tigers until their last contest, where he did not play at all — leaving his status as questionable for Saturday’s affair.

If he does play, Stony Brook could be susceptible to a second consecutive goalkeeper masterclass against it. Downs is fifth in the CAA in save percentage (.513) and sixth in saves per game (10.25). He previously earned back-to-back CAA Defensive Player of the Week Honors this year.

If Downs is out again, backup goalkeeper Matt Nilan will take his spot. This season, Nilan has a .474 save percentage in 73 minutes and 24 seconds of playing time.

Towson also has the edge over the Seawolves in the faceoff department. The Tigers have won 55.3% of their faceoffs this year to lead the CAA. Stony Brook has won just 46.6% of its faceoffs, which ranks fifth in the conference.

Faceoff specialist Matt Constantinides takes most of the reps in the X for Towson. His .560 faceoff win percentage is good for second in the CAA. For the Seawolves, faceoff specialist Chris Esposito is their go-to man in the circle. However, he has only won 47.8% of his faceoffs this year.

All of the numbers favor the Tigers coming in. However, an upset could be just what Stony Brook needs to turn things around.

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