After years of steady improvement, Stony Brook’s men’s lacrosse team will look to a duo from north of the border to take it over the top.
British Columbia products Brody Eastwood and Challen Rogers return to lead a team that reached the America East Tournament final and was sixth in the nation in goals per game. Miller Place product Jeff Reh will help lead a defense that was picked second in the conference’s preseason coaches poll.
“We’re definitely looking forward to the season. We have  seniors back, which is huge,” said the 5-11, 175-pound Eastwood, who tied for second in the NCAA in goals with 62.
The two seniors will look to lead the Seawolves to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2012. To do so, they will need Eastwood and Rogers (30 goals, 23 assists) to continue their strong play, and help replace the output of Mike Rooney, who graduated as the school’s all-time leader in points and assists.
“He played unreal last year, so that’s going to be tough,” Eastwood said of Rooney, who was second in the country in points. “It’s a big void, but top to bottom, we’re looking really good.”
Rogers agreed that replacing Rooney would be a challenge, but said executing an offensive system predicated on ball movement (the Seawolves were second in the nation in assists per game) can help soften the blow.
Eastwood and Rogers did not know each other personally while growing up in British Columbia but became fast friends upon arriving at Stony Brook, rooming together since freshman year and adapting to life on Long Island.
“There’s been a lot to get used to,” Rogers said. “It’s taken a while to get used to the accents and being told we have an accent, and the winters are actually so much colder here than back home.”
Reh had to do some adjusting of his own after moving from attack to the defensive midfield last year, but like his Canadian teammates, he has made himself at home.
“It’s really my niche,” said Reh of his new position, where he won 51 ground balls for a team that was eighth in the country in ground balls per game. “I think I’ve found my spot, on the wing and playing defense. It’s where I belong.”
Inside Lacrosse named Reh and Rogers third team preseason All-Americans, and Eastwood was an honorable mention. The Seawolves return other key contributors including East Meadow product Dylan Curry (45 ground balls, 13 caused turnovers in 2015) and Bay Shore product Lucas Rock (26 ground balls).
Matt Schultz (Smithtown West) and Chris Hughes (Oceanside) also return, after producing 34 and 31 points, respectively, last season, as does faceoff specialist Jay Lindsay (55.6- percent success rate).
Stony Brook players to watch
He second in the country in goals scored last season with a team-record 62 and had a 63.9% shooting percentage. He is 30 goals away from breaking Jordan McBride’s all-time school record of 175.
Was second on the team in caused turnovers with 18 and third on the team in ground balls with 51 last season. He also had eight goals and four assists.
Had 30 goals and 23 assists in 2015 to finish 10th in the America East in points per game. It was his second straight 50-point season.
Had 45 ground balls and 13 caused turnovers last year. He also had five goals and four assists.
His 1093 minutes played last season tied for the team lead. He had 26 ground balls and four caused turnovers.