Towson associate head coach Anthony Gilardi was named Stony Brook...

Towson associate head coach Anthony Gilardi was named Stony Brook men's lacrosse coach, pending a background check, Stony Brook athletic director Shawn Heilbron confirmed Thursday. Credit: Towson Athletics/Tiffany DeBoer

It’s the homecoming that Anthony Gilardi wasn’t so sure would ever happen.

Gilardi, a 2000 graduate of Baldwin High School, will be the new Stony Brook men’s lacrosse coach, the school confirmed to Newsday on Thursday. SBU athletic director Shawn Heilbron said the hiring is subject to a background check, per university guidelines.

“I never thought I’d have a chance to come home,” said Gilardi, 37, who spent the last nine years as Towson’s offensive coordinator after other coaching stops at Denison, Ohio State (his alma mater) and Navy. “When you get into this profession, you can’t really ever know where you’re going to end up.”

Gilardi’s hiring would end Stony Brook’s five week-search. Jim Nagle and the university parted ways on May 14 after he compiled a 68-59 record in eight seasons and fell to UMBC in the semifinals of the America East tournament despite being the No. 1 seed.

As the offensive coordinator and assistant head coach for Towson, Gilardi led the nation’s 17th-ranked offense this season at 12.69 goals per game. Stony Brook finished 55th at 10.13 goals per game.

Towson was ranked No. 1 in the nation in early March, the first No. 1 ranking in program history, and earned the No. 6 overall seed in the NCAA tournament, losing to Maryland in the first round. The Tigers reached the NCAA quarterfinals in 2016 and the Final Four in 2017.

“For me, it’s when you find the right fit, you have to take advantage of it,” Gilardi said. “My journey was a great journey, and I learned a lot from it.”

A skilled recruiter touted for player development, Gilardi said he’s already made calls to current players. The team’s top eight scorers return, so Gilardi has talent with which to work. “We’re attacking this from Day 1 the right way and getting those guys involved.”

“Anthony is a tireless recruiter who is one of the most respected offensive minds in the game,” Heilbron said in a statement. “Our expectation at Stony Brook is to compete for a national championship, and Anthony has a vision to help lead us there.”

There’s no staff in place around Gilardi, and he said he’s keeping his options open. But he acknowledged the benefit of coaches with Long Island ties who can help recruit local talents.

“Getting the right players to stay home is a big piece of it,” he said.

Gilardi played football and lacrosse at Baldwin, where he fell in love with the community that was immersed in the local sports scene. He’s coming home.

“Everything’s in place,” he said, “and we want to win.”

Newsday LogoSUBSCRIBEUnlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months