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Stony Brook men’s lacrosse to host must-win versus Drexel

Midfielder Will Button faces a defender against Hampton on Saturday, March 2. Button will play a big role for the Stony Brook men’s lacrosse team’s offense when it hosts Drexel. BRITTNEY DIETZ/THE STATESMAN

With just four regular-season games remaining, the Stony Brook men’s lacrosse team can not afford many more defeats.

Hoping to end their four-game losing streak, the Seawolves (3-7, 1-2 CAA) will welcome the Drexel Dragons (4-6, 1-2 CAA) to Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium on Saturday. The sides are in a much different spot today than in their last meeting at the 2023 Coastal Athletic Association (CAA) championship semifinals. Then, the third-seeded Stony Brook beat the second-seeded Drexel 13-10. Opening faceoff for Saturday’s contest is set for 3:30 p.m. 

Much of the Dragons’ slow start could be attributed to their offense. They have scored the third-fewest goals per game (10.5) while posting the third-least shots per game (37.5) in the CAA.

The loss of attackman Sean Donnelly — who transferred to Penn State in the offseason — has been costly to Drexel. In 2023, Donnelly led it with 33 goals and dished out 11 assists. Attackman Max Semple has replaced Donnelly in the goalscoring department and scored 21 times — good for sixth in the conference. 

While Semple is a lethal scorer, the same can not be said for his passing. He has registered just a single assist, a territory which attackman Gavin Kelly excels in. After coming off the bench for the first eight games of the year, Kelly earned a starting spot in the previous two contests due to his production. He leads his team and is seventh in the league with 12 assists alongside 11 goals.

Another attacking weapon for the Dragons is attackman Conor Hooley. He has tallied 13 goals and nine assists this season. Drexel’s second-biggest goalscoring threat is midfielder Luke Tomak and his 18 goals. He has also dished out four assists.

Attackman Zach Augustine’s nine goals and eight assists makes him a versatile option in the Dragons’ offense.

The Seawolves defense — which will square off against the struggling Drexel attack — does not fare much better. Stony Brook concedes 11.39 goals per game, which ranks fourth in the CAA. However, it has been poor on clears as the Seawolves have a .833 percentage.

Although Stony Brook’s starting goalkeeper has been tricky to predict, the duties will likely fall on goalkeeper Tommy Wilk on Saturday. He is second in the conference in saves percentage (.557) and fifth in saves per game (10.89).

Defenders Mikey Sabella and Carson Forney anchor the Seawolves’ endline. Sabella leads the team and is second in the conference with 15 caused turnovers and has scooped up 18 ground balls.

Forney is third on Stony Brook with eight caused turnovers and fourth with 22 ground balls. Defender Sean Conk is also a defensive starter. He has posted six ground balls and a pair of caused turnovers.

Long stick midfielder Christian Lowd is another integral piece of the Seawolves’ backline. He is 10th in the league with 29 ground balls and second on the team with 11 caused turnovers.

Joining Lowd in the midfield is defensive midfielder Ben Morschauser and midfielder Garrett Gibbons. They have caused six turnovers apiece; Morschauser has also picked up the third most ground balls on the team (23). 

Stony Brook’s offense musters up almost two more goals per game than Drexel. It scores 12.2 goals per game — the third-most in the CAA. The Seawolves also rank fourth in the conference with 40.6 shots per game.

Attackmen Dylan Pallonetti and Nick Dupuis lead Stony Brook’s attack. Pallonetti’s 33 goals is the most in the conference and tied for fifth in the nation. To go along with his goalscoring ability, Pallonetti has also dished out eight assists.

Opposite to Pallonetti, Dupuis is first in the league and second in the nation with 35 assists. He has also scored 14 times.

Midfielder Noah Armitage and attackman Justin Bonacci are other reliable weapons for the Seawolves on that side of the field, as they have combined for 31 goals alongside three assists apiece. 

Midfielders Jack Dougherty and Ryan Barker have also chipped in on the attack. Dougherty has posted 10 goals and three assists while Barker has scored nine times.

The Dragons defense concedes 11.43 goals per game, which ranks them fifth in the CAA. They have a clear percentage of .873. Goalkeeper Drew McGill will be in the cage for Drexel. He is fourth in the conference in saves percentage (.532) and second in saves per game (12.60).

The Dragons start defenders Luke Carden, Kevin O’Brien and Collin Gucwa on their endline. Carden leads his team and is seventh in the league with 12 caused turnovers alongside four ground balls. O’Brien has scooped up eight ground balls and caused three turnovers. Gucwa has tallied 11 ground balls and three caused turnovers.

Defender Pat Lyman will be coming off the bench but has previously started five games. He is second on his team with nine caused turnovers alongside 21 ground balls.

Drexel has the edge on faceoffs over Stony Brook. It is third in the CAA in faceoff percentage (.516). Conversely, the Seawolves are seventh (.447).

The Dragons’ unit is led by faceoff specialist Connor Beals. He is fourth in the conference in faceoff percentage (.543) and ground balls (43). Stony Brook’s Chris Esposito is tenth in the league in faceoff percentage (.453) and sixth in ground balls (36).

The Seawolves and Drexel sit in the four-team pack of 1-2 records in the CAA. Last season, no teams with more than two losses made the conference championship.

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