May 25, 2010

Seawolves Show No Signs of Slowing in 2011

by Corey McLaughlin | Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online

"We went out with swagger," Stony Brook goalie Charlie Paar said after Sunday's one-goal loss to Virginia in the NCAA quarterfinals. Paar returns as a fifth-year senior in 2011.

© Joe Rogate

STONY BROOK, N.Y. -- You could tell Stony Brook’s Jordan McBride was still processing just what exactly happened out there on the field.

After the Seawolves’ season-ending 10-9 NCAA tournament quarterfinal loss to Virginia on Sunday, someone at the post-game press conference asked McBride to describe his potential game-tying shot, which was saved by Virginia goalie Adam Ghitelman with about 30 seconds left. McBride, a 23-year-old junior, spilled his wandering thoughts into a microphone.

“I don’t know, the ball came,” McBride said of a pass to him on the left wing. “That’s one shot I definitely want back. I’m going to be thinking about it until next year.”

Ah, there it is: Next year, which there will be for McBride, Tewaaraton Award finalist Kevin Crowley, and numerous players, especially on offense, from this season’s historic Stony Brook team. They are reasons to project more success for the program.

In the Seawolves’ 11th Division I season, the 2010 group produced the best year in program history. They won Stony Brook’s most games in a season, finishing 13-4, earned the No. 8 seed in the NCAA tournament, won their first-ever tournament game, and drew more than 10,000 fans to LaValle Stadium for the quarterfinal bout against Virginia.

And they put on a show for, by far, the largest crowd for a Stony Brook lacrosse game. The Seawolves fell behind 5-1 early in the second quarter to the nation’s top-ranked team, tied the score at 5, 7 and 8 in the second half, but ultimately lost by one.

“In the beginning of the season we were ranked 28th, I think,” goalie Charlie Paar said. “We went out with some swagger.”

Paar, the starting goalie the past two seasons after transferring from nearby Nassau CC, will return next season as a fifth-year senior. Also coming back is Crowley, who with two goals Sunday tied and set the program’s single-season record for goals. The behemoth midfielder finished with 51 goals and 26 assists and is one of five men’s national player of the year finalists.

The first rule of Project Mayhem: don't ask questions.

* MD1 Tournament Central
* WD1 Tournament Central

Crowley and McBride (48g, 7a), both from New Westminster, British Columbia, led a potent offensewith attackman Tom Compitello (37g, 35a), who will also return next season. The entire starting attack will be back along with the first midfield and faceoff specialist Adam Rand, who had the nation’s fourth-best winning percentage on draws.

There will be holes on defense. They’ll need to replace long-stick midfielder Steven Waldeck, a team leader, and starting close defensemen Chris Gignilliat and Michael Sopko. But head coach Rick Sowell talked about a generally positive outlook for next season.

“We have a pretty good team coming back,” he said. “We lose 10 goals maybe. Waldeck scored eight goals for us and a second line middie who was hurt scored two goals. We scored over 200 goals and we have about 190 of them coming back. We feel good about that. We feel good about our faceoffs. We have a fifth-year goalie that we feel good about.”

Sowell also felt good about the type of exposure Stony Brook gained from the playoff games and the potential recruiting benefits. He also spoke about the atmosphere surrounding the Virginia game. Normally empty parking lots on campus were filled with tailgaters, and with every Stony Brook goal in the second half, the packed 8,136-seat stadium was rocking. “You could feel the vibrations,” Waldeck said from the noise and movement from the standing room only crowd.

Stony Brook was the primary focus of Long Island college lacrosse after Hofstra, the area’s other Division I program, bowed out in the first round of the tournament with a defeat to Maryland.

“It was fun to be in it,” Sowell said. “It was a tremendous feeling to be where we were for a couple hours … You couldn’t have drawn up a better script in terms of taking your program to the next level. This exposure, a great crowd and great environment. Kids have seen us on TV the last couple weeks. We feel good about where this program is headed.”

“For us to win 13 games, that’s incredible,” he said, “but we don’t want to be one and done. That’s not what we want. We’re going to try to get back here as often as we can.”

As McBride said after the loss with a strained chuckle, “I just want another shot.” He and Stony Brook could have more chances next season.

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