Matt Schultz walked out on the turf with his mom, dad, sister and grandmother between two rows of Stony Brook teammates. The senior attackman from Smithtown collected his framed action shot as a parting gift and posed for another parting shot with his family, coach Jim Nagle and athletic director Shawn Heilbron.
“I tried not to think, ‘This is the last game I’ll ever play here,’ ” Schultz said. “You try to go into it with the same mentality.”
Then Schultz, one of 12 honored on senior day for this 15th-ranked lacrosse team Saturday at LaValle Stadium, contributed five goals and one assist in the regular-season finale against Hartford. The Seawolves went on a nine-goal, second-half run and won, 16-8, clinching the America East’s second seed.
Stony Brook (12-3, 5-1) hasn’t reached the NCAA Tournament since 2012, but the Seawolves think they’re close.
“We’ve very driven,” said senior attackman Brody Eastwood, who added three goals and one assist. “The first couple of years were a rough go and then last year we finally picked up some momentum, I feel, and then had a pretty bad ending. It left a real bad taste in our mouth.”
That’s because Albany won at home against Stony Brook, 22-9, in the conference final. Albany (12-2, 6-0) defeated the visiting Seawolves, 16-10, in March and will host the tournament again as the top seed. They will meet again for an NCAA Tournament ticket if Stony Brook beats Vermont and Albany beats Hartford in Thursday’s semifinals.
“It’s in the back of our minds,” senior goalie Zach Oliveri said, “but we’ve really got to focus on how we prepare for whoever we face in the first round.”
Hartford (9-6, 3-3), paced by Alec Brown’s four goals, went up 7-6 11 seconds into the third period.
But Ryan Bitzer scored to tie it. Then Jake Sichenzia untied it. Schultz fed Eastwood for a goal. Challen Rogers fed Schultz for another. Jay Lindsay scored eight seconds later. And Schultz came from behind the cage and converted from about 5 yards away. Quickly it was 12-7 after three.
Alex Corpolongo, Schultz and McLean Chicquen scored to complete the impressive 9-0 burst.
“I think they did a great job at the faceoff ‘x’ and their wing play,” Hawks coach Peter Lawrence said. “They just controlled possessions and ground us down.”
Lindsay went 13-for-22 on faceoffs against Division I’s top faceoff team, featuring Dylan Protesto. Nagle gave Lindsay the game ball.
“The No. 1 faceoff guy statistically in the country and Jay beat him and got transition and we got goals out of it,” Nagle said. “He was really the biggest factor in the game.”