For Stony Brook's 12-9 men's lacrosse victory over Rutgers Saturday, freshman Kyle Rowe was the drumroll, sophomore Chris Hughes the cymbal crash.
Rowe, a freshman from Vienna, Va., handled the buildup of anticipation as faceoff specialist, introducing his team's offensive show and quickly getting off the stage. Chris Hughes, a sophomore midfielder from Oceanside, stepped into the spotlight to orchestrate the climactic fourth-period Stony Brook surge that untied a 6-6 knot.
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Rowe, already the most efficient faceoff man Stony Brook has had since Jim Nagle took over as coach three seasons ago, won 16 of his 24 taken Saturday. More to the point, he won 11 of 13 in the second half as Stony Brook wrested control.
Hughes, when it mattered most in the fourth period, scored three of his four goals. That's one more than Hughes, whipping blistering lefthanded shots at the Rutgers net, had collected in his first three games.
"That was a real good effort against a real good Big East or Big 10 team, however you look at it," Nagle said of Rutgers' impending conference migration.
Stony Brook (2-2) had worked all week, Nagle said, on shutting down Rutgers' Scott Klimchak, whose 13 goals led his team. And did so, holding Klimchak to a single assist with defenseman George Benitez badgering Klimchak in the crease.
Hughes, who said he "does everything else righthanded," happened to pick up a lacrosse stick as a southpaw at 3 years old and has stuck with it. Saturday, he kept finding the space in the final period to fire away, with that heavy lefthanded shot, from 10 to 12 yards directly in front of the goal.
Rutgers scored nine seconds into the game and 22 seconds into the second half. But Rowe began to establishing the tone with his second-half faceoffs, using the old "clamp" move to form what Nagle called "the plunger," wherein Rowe forces a bend in his stick to "suck the ball out," Nagle said.
Rowe might have had to match those skills against the nation's faceoff percentage leader, but Rutgers' junior Joe Nardella missed the game with an injury. "I like playing against the best," Rowe said, "But I guess it worked out all right."
Anyway, when Stony Brook plays Maryland, expected to be ranked No. 1 when they meet on Saturday, "Kyle will get the real best guy in the country," Nagle said. That's Maryland junior Charlie Raffa, the former St. Anthony's star.
Notes & quotes: Besides Hughes, Long Island high school grads provided six of Stony Brook's other eight goals -- two by Holbrook junior Mike Andreassi and one apiece by East Islip junior Mike Rooney, Sayville sophomore Jake Sichenzia, Smithtown West sophomore Matt Schultz and Riverhead sophomore Ryan Bitzer.