By Jordan Gibbons
Stony Brook, ranked fifth in the nation, opened its 2011 season with a hard-fought battle into overtime against the top-ranked Virginia Cavaliers. Virginia snuck out of LaValle Stadium with a 11-10 victory after the Seawolves forced overtime by scoring two goals in the final 21 seconds of regulation.
Steele Stanwick led Virginia with five goals and two assists, including the game-winning shot in overtime, pushing the Cavaliers record to 3-0.
Senior midfielder Kevin Crowley started off his senior year with the Seawolves by scoring four goals and recording one assist in the losing effort. Brett Drost contributed from the second attack line with three goals and one assist.
Stony Brook head coach Rick Sowell was disappointed with the outcome, but still proud of the effort his team showed against one of the toughest teams in the nation.
“We were able to come back, tie it, get it in overtime,” Sowell said. “Unfortunately, just not the result we wanted.”
Stanwick scored the first goal of the game following a turnover on Stony Brook’s side of the field. The Seawolves stormed back with two goals by Crowley and an impressive play by Drost, who dived in front of the crease and ripped a goal while his body was horizontal to the field, giving Stony Brook a 3-1 lead four minutes before halftime.
The Cavaliers tied it at 3-3 when Mark Cockerton wrapped around from behind the net and rolled a shot into the bottom left corner of the goal with a minute and a half remaining in the second period.
Stanwick gave Virginia a 6-4 lead at the end of the third period with two consecutive goals within minutes of each other.
After the Cavaliers took a commanding 7-4 advantage with Cockerton’s second goal of the game, Crowley quickly responded, firing a goal past Virginia’s senior goalie, Adam Ghitelman.
Senior midfielder Timmy Trenkle brought Stony Brook to within one when he surged towards the goal and fired a shot top shelf to make it 7-6.
Virginia jumped back out to a three-goal lead with two rapid fire scores by Colin Briggs (two goals and one assist) and Matt White (one goal).
Drost and Trenkle added to the scoring surplus in the fourth period by answering Virginia’s back-to-back display with two quick goals of their own, making it 9-8 with two and a half minutes to go.
Midfielder Colin Briggs quieted the crowd when he charged down the field to score his second goal, putting Virginia back up by two.
With the situation looking grim, Russ Bonanno found Crowley deep in the box, who then spun off his man and fired a shot past the goalie’s feet to give the Seawolves a glimmer of hope.
Senior Adam Rand, who dominated face-offs winning 9-of-12 in the fourth period (17-of-26 overall), ripped the ball out at midfield and pushed the possession into Virginia territory with 21 seconds left. Bonanno came out from the end line to wrap around the net and shoot a goal past the legs of Ghitelman to tie the game up at 10-10 with three seconds left on the clock.
Stony Brook maintained possession for the first two minutes of overtime, but came away empty when Ghitelman made a crucial save on Crowley, who had a good shot to end the game.
With under a minute left, a battle for a loose ball deep in Stony Brook territory drew Stony Brook’s senior goalie, Rob Camposa, away from the net in an effort to give his defenseman an outlet. Unfortunately for the Seawolves, Stanwick ended up with the ball and fired the winning shot into an empty goal.
Crowley, who led the nation in points per game last season (4.53), is looking forward to the rest of the season rather than dwelling on the loss.
“I would obviously love nothing more than to get a win for the home crowd that came out and supported us,” said Crowley after the game. “It’s our first game of the year and we got a lot of lacrosse left.”
Camposa, who was visibly devastated with the loss, was able to put the game in perspective.
“We still have eleven games left,” he said. “it’s not about the start of the season, it’s about how you finish and where you finish.”
Virginia was short-handed in the game, missing twin brothers, Shamel and Rhamel Bratton who were out due to a team suspension. Stony Brook was without their senior attackman Tom Compitello due to an illness.
Coach Sowell was pleased with his team’s comeback ability and anticipates better play in the future.
“There’s no quit in this team and that’s what I’m most proud about,” he said. “We probably could play a little bit better and we will. There’s no doubt.”
Stony Brook will try to rebound from the loss on March 5 when they head north to visit Marist at 1 p.m.