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Alex Corpolongo’s 2 goals spark Stony Brook lacrosse win

Stony Brook attacker Ryan Bitzer shoots the ball

Stony Brook attacker Ryan Bitzer shoots the ball against Fairfield in the second half of an NCAA men's lacrosse game at LaValle Stadium on Saturday, March 4, 2017. Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Alex Corpolongo took a perfect pass from Ryan Bitzer and scored with three seconds remaining in the third quarter. The play capped a five-goal third as Stony Brook registered a 9-6 come-from-behind win over Fairfield on Saturday in its home lacrosse opener.

Stony Brook, which trailed 4-2 at the half, seized control of eight straight possessions in the third quarter and outshot the Stags, 10-2. The Seawolves overcame a sluggish first half to improve their record to 4-0 for the first time in program history.

“Fairfield played some great team defense and a traditional style of lacrosse, slowing it down,” said Bitzer, a senior midfielder, who finished with a goal and two assists. “We had to stick with what we do and find our rhythm. We knew it would be a battle with them.”

Gusty winds and bone-chilling temperatures made it tough for the players to communicate with each other on the field and with the coaches on the sideline. Stony Brook turned the ball over 12 times in a first half of missed opportunities.

“Communication was hard because they couldn’t hear us,” said Stony Brook coach Jim Nagle. “And that can make it tougher on a team, especially a younger one like ours. And Fairfield is a conservative team and that held back our running game early on.”

Fairfield midfielder Kendall Keahey gave the Stags a 1-0 lead with an unassisted goal with 7:52 left in the first quarter. Stony Brook Wayne White found the post with 5:07 left and freshman Connor Grippe was denied from close range a short time later.

“Our guys run hard and they didn’t get discouraged early,” said Stony Brook captain Jeff Reh. “I have faith in our guys. Our keeper played a great game and we got it going.”

The Seawolves tied it at 1 when Bitzer dumped a pass inside to Cory VanGinhoven early in the second quarter. Keahey gave Fairfield a 2-1 lead on a neat pass from Dylan Beckwith before Bitzer drew the Seawolves even with a short bounce shot after a long pass from James Gerstner.

Travis Ford and Alex Wagner scored in the final 5:49 to give the Stags a 4-2 halftime lead. But the third quarter onslaught was too much for Fairfield. White scored unassisted after a dodge at the top of the box on a 12-yard rocket to the net to make it 4-3. Reh’s vision created the next goal. He drove to the net and found Corpolongo all alone to tie it at 4.

“We moved the ball well,” Bitzer said. “And it creates opportunities for everyone.”

Grippe converted a pass from Derek Lloyd with a lefthanded rope for the Seawolves’ first lead of the game, 5-4, with 5:35 left in the third quarter. And Tom Haun worked his way from behind the cage and made a diving lefthanded shot for a 6-4 lead.

“I thought Grippe’s goal coming off the bench in a man-up situation was the key,” said Nagle.

Corpolongo then netted his second goal, the final third quarter tally, to make it 7-4.

“It’s a team of opportunity,” said VanGinhoven, who scored his team-leading 14th goal late in the fourth quarter to seal the win. “It feels great to play within a system where they’re finding me and I’m finishing.”

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