A 13-7 loss to sixth-ranked Virginia will not define Stony Brook's men's lacrosse season. The America East season will do that. But the Cavaliers have played a significant role in the evolution of Seawolves lacrosse, and on Saturday, they provided another chapter.
The scores used to be lopsided in favor of Virginia, but all that changed in 2010 when the teams played a classic game in the NCAA quarterfinals at LaValle Stadium. Stony Brook lost, 10-9, but garnered national attention and respect in the process. An 11-10 overtime loss in 2011 added another building block.
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But with a young team, what could be expected this time?
"Every game matters,'' SBU midfielder Jeff Tundo said. "We didn't come into this game saying we're going to build on it; we came in saying we're going to win. We stuck in for three quarters.''
Stony Brook trailed by only a goal entering the final period after rallying from deficits of 6-2 in the second and 8-5 in the third. But Virginia freshman attack James Pannell (Smithtown West) scored 28 seconds into the fourth, the first of two goals he would score in a five-goal outburst by Virginia. And Stony Brook (1-2) lost for the 11th straight times in the series.
"I think the fact that we did come back is something to say about our team and the persistence we showed,'' Tundo said. "The sky's the limit. Everybody's buying in. I don't think that was a bad loss.''
Despite that losing streak, the close scores of past seasons give these games the feel of a rivalry. Stony Brook coach Jim Nagle disagreed, however, saying: "It's not a rivalry until you beat them.'' But Nagle admired the effort.
"I thought our upperclassmen performed great. It was the younger guys who were not ready or as quick,'' he said. "In the fourth, we had an opportunity to get a possession and we just rushed. They were rushing at times when they really didn't have to, but I think that's a credit to Virginia's athleticism. We have to move on. We're a young team. I think we're going to get better.''
Tundo (two assists), Mike Andreassi and Mike Rooney each scored two goals for the Seawolves. Mark Cockerton had five goals for Virginia. Matt White had three goals and three assists and Pannell scored twice.
SBU freshman Dan Shaughnessy faced an incredible 55 shots -- 19 in the final period -- and had 19 saves in establishing himself as the team's top goalie.
Virginia (3-0) scooped up 41 ground balls to 28 for Stony Brook, which also hurt itself with 24 turnovers. Virginia won 16 of 23 faceoffs.