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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


No longer the young phenom, Rooney looks to continue success

JuniorMike Rooney is hoping for another shot at the NCAA tournament this year. (NINA LIN / THE STATESMAN)

 Junior Men’s Lacrosse player Mike Rooney has done many things from his redshirt season to his current fourth season as a Seawolf.  The attacker has already scored 53 goals and contributed to the team effort with 36 assists, but one of the elder statesmen of the team still has more to give.

A Long Island native, Rooney has come a long way since his first season in action for Stony Brook. Among the accolades that the health science major accumulated in the 2012 season were America East Rookie of the Year, All-Rookie team in the conference, leading goal scorer and leading point scorer for Stony Brook. Five times, Rooney captured the America East Rookie of the Week Award, setting up for a big career at Kenneth P. Lavalle Stadium.

As a redshirt, just practicing with the team, and through his early games on the field with his fellow Seawolves, Rooney was in a different atmosphere. After a standout high school career at East Islip High School in Suffolk County, Rooney entered a whole new ball game at Stony Brook. Even while putting up some incredible numbers and winning many awards right out of the gate, the junior still had a lot to adjust to.

In reference to his early days as a Seawolf, Rooney said, “back then, I was trying to figure out how coach wanted to play and everything, and now as a senior [player], you kind of know the routine and stuff.”

Rooney’s work ethic has changed in a positive way since getting to the college game. He said, “the coaches affected me in a work ethic standpoint. You’ve got to be able to work hard all the time, not just when you want. You’ve got to do it all the time, not just at certain points.”

In a role reversal, Rooney has gone from being the student to becoming the teacher, adding to the team in more ways than helping put the ball in the net. Now, Rooney said, it’s about “just trying to help the younger guys out,” making things about more than filling up the stat sheet.

Last season, the Seawolves were lead in the goal column by an outstanding freshman, Brody Eastwood, from Victoria, British Columbia. The attacker netted 44 goals, tying the school record for most goals as a freshman.

Having been in Eastwood’s shoes before as the so-called “young gun,” Rooney knows how to help the younger players develop.

Rooney said that as a mentor to the up and coming players on the team, the best thing to do is to, “let them play the way they know how to play, let them be able to transition easily into the college game, and just help them out with other things, stuff like that.”

As the season rapidly approaches, so does an awful lot of stiff competition. Unlike many teams that schedule non-conference games to build confidence, coach Jim Nagle put together a tough group of games. In fact, it does not get much tougher than the top team in the country.

On Feb. 23, the Seawolves travel to Durham, N.C., to take on Duke, who besides being No. 1 are the defending NCAA champions.

Just a couple of weeks later, Stony Brook will have home field advantage when they take on the sixth-ranked Maryland Terrapins. Always near the top of the rankings year after year, the Seawolves will face a tremendous test even with the crowd behind them.

Tough or not, Rooney and company will be ready, as the attacker said, “it’s exciting you know you have an opportunity to beat a ranked opponent, it’s always going to be fun, it’s going to be a challenge, but I think we’re up to the challenge and we’ll be excited to play them.”

In his first season, Rooney lead the team all the way to the NCAA tournament, where they lost to the second seed, Johns Hopkins.

After a year where the Seawolves did not make it back to the tournament, Rooney said that this year will be different. “I think that our team is going to be a little more mentally tougher, win some of the close games we couldn’t win last year and be able to win them this year.“

Mike Rooney has been there before, but now, two years later, he gets another shot at reaching the promised land, getting back to the NCAA tournament.

He said, “I’d describe myself as someone that’s going to play hard all the time.”

If Rooney wants to get back there, playing hard is more than a good start.

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