If Stony Brook wants to reach and make an impact in postseason play, the Seawolves will have to start winning some close lacrosse games.
No one knows that better than coach Jim Nagle, who watched his team combine sloppy defense and squandered scoring chances en route a 12-11 loss to Quinnipiac at LaValle Stadium on Tuesday night.
The defeat was the third in a row for the Seawolves (4-7), who are 1-5 in games decided by two goals or fewer.
"You've got to believe and sometimes when you're young, it's hard to really believe," Nagle said. "I think we're victims of that right now. You've got to believe what you're doing."
Despite winning 21 of 27 faceoffs, the Seawolves were outshot 41-26.
"For a team that won  percent of the faceoffs, we played defense the whole entire game," Nagle said. "I don't know how that's possible.
"I thought the intensity and lack of defensive fundamentals probably were the worst they have been all year."
The Seawolves did not help themselves on the attack, as they were called for several crease violations and made many unforced errors.
"I threw one away in the fourth with six [minutes] left, which was unacceptable," said Matt Schultz, whose three goals led Stony Brook. "It's just tough when you're making unforced errors. You can't do that at this level. You can't just give a college team the ball. They'll just go down there and score. It's just frustrating."
The game was nip-and-tuck the entire way. Neither team led by more than one goal. The match was tied 11 times and changed leads 10 times.
The Seawolves took an 11-10 edge early in the fourth quarter on goals by Challen Rogers and Schultz with 12:46 and 11:13 left, respectively, but Quinnipiac's Tom McNaney tied it with 10:10 remaining and Matt Kycia put in the game-winner with 6:53 left, off an assist by West Islip graduate Michael Sagl (two goals).
Stony Brook's Mike Andreassi, Chris Hughes and Brody Eastwood added two goals apiece and Mike Rooney had one.
The Seawolves still have some time to right themselves with four America East matches that will close out their schedule, starting with Vermont at home at 1 p.m. Saturday. They are 0-1 in the conference.
"These are the important ones, so we just have to focus on the upcoming games, put the past behind us," Schultz said.
Added Nagle: "We have to get a lot better. We have to improve because that performance tonight defensively really is not going to beat a lot of teams."