The cut on the top of Ryland Rees’ nose was a clear portrayal of what just took place on the field.
But in a game featuring 11 penalties, including two ejections following a multiplayer fight near midfield in the third quarter, the best resolve of the afternoon might have come in the final 13 minutes from the Stony Brook men’s lacrosse team.
After trailing Virginia by seven goals with 12:53 remaining, the Seawolves scored the contest’s final six goals and possessed the ball with 17.5 seconds remaining and a chance to tie. But Stony Brook was unable to capitalize, turning the ball over, and falling short in a 15-14 loss to No. 9 Virginia Saturday afternoon at LaValle Stadium.
“I think we came out knowing it was going to be a tough opponent, but I think the team showed a tremendous fight and great comeback,” said Rees, a long stick midfielder who forced three turnovers. “It stinks losing, obviously, but we got that much better today and grinded all the way to the end.”
Stony Brook outscored Virginia, 6-1, in the fourth quarter, outshooting the Cavaliers, 16-6, in the period.
“We’re a young team, but we can’t be afraid to make mistakes,” said sophomore Tom Haun, of Ronkonkoma, who had three goals for Stony Brook. “And I think we had that attitude of ‘We have nothing to lose,’ so we were pushing the ball in transition and it was turning into goals.”
Virginia (6-1) led Stony Brook, 6-5, at halftime, but scored four goals in the final 1:45 of the third quarter — two coming during a pair of one-minute non-releasable penalties — to take a 14-8 advantage into the fourth quarter.
“We had those crazy penalties that really set us back,” coach Jim Nagle said. “And then to climb all the way back, six goals in the fourth quarter, and have a couple opportunities to tie it at the end of the game, you just can’t ask for much more than that from the guys.”
Haun and Connor Grippe led the Seawolves with three goals each. Mike McCannell had a goal and two assists and Jack Walsh added three assists in the loss. Virginia, led by Michael Kraus’ five goals and five assists, held a 43-29 advantage on ground balls and won 22 of 30 faceoffs.
Stony Brook fell to 1-5 on the season, but enter America East play March 18 at UMBC with added confidence after playing what Nagle called their “best game of the season.”
“We’re a pretty young team and the guys finally played like they weren’t young, so we’ll take that into conference play,” Nagle said. “Our conference is very difficult but our preseason [non-conference] has been chalk full of challenges and today, we found out that we grew from those challenges.”