Regardless of the sport, Stony Brook has learned that the road to the NCAA Tournament often requires beating Albany. Saturday's home men's lacrosse game between the two rivals, which began just as Stony Brook's basketball team was about to lose a heartbreaker in Albany for the America East title, was an important beginning to what may lie ahead six weeks from now if the teams meet in the conference tournament with an NCAA bid in store.
Albany won, 17-15, and the 15th- ranked Great Danes (2-2, 1-0) again served notice that they are the team to beat. Just as Albany's basketball team always seems to be. "I had left when we had a lead," Stony Brook coach Jim Nagle said of the basketball game. "They've got a great program. Coach [Steve] Pikiell is the role model for the department and has a great group of kids, so definitely we're disappointed for them."
Stony Brook (5-2, 0-1) tried its best to brighten the day for the downtrodden basketball fans as it rallied from a third-period deficit of 11-6 to tie the score at 13 on Mike Rooney's fifth goal. "We were getting the ball and we started playing our offense," he said. "I felt like the first half, we weren't clicking."
Nagle added, "We got back, so it's a testament to our character to fight back. But we dug ourselves a pretty big hole there."
Albany's Bennett Drake and John Maloney scored the first two goals of the final period on man-up opportunities, and when Alex Corpolongo's tally brought Stony Brook within 15-14, Seth Oakes scored on an assist from Lyle Thompson, his 10th of the game, and the lead went back to two. With 6:25 left, Chris Hughes cut it to one before Oakes' fourth and final goal ended the scoring.
Thompson, co-winner of the 2016 Tewaaraton Award with his brother Miles, had 12 points. "The kid's unbelievable, such a great player," Nagle said. "He makes a lot of people better around him."
Brody Eastwood had four goals for the Seawolves.
"They're a good team; they're a solid team all the way through," he said of Albany. "We weren't in top form in the first half and we need to pull together and play the way we play in practice because that really ended up hurting us coming to the half down four. We weren't playing up to the standards we should."