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men’s lacrosse

Jimmy Morrell (29) charges forward during the first quarter against Hofstra on Saturday.

The Stony Brook men’s lacrosse team entered the USILA rankings this week for the first time in four years. And things are looking bright under second-year head coach Anthony Gilardi.

However, the 17th-ranked Seawolves suffered their first blemish of the season on Feb. 27, falling to host Hofstra, 20-17.

With the teams deadlocked in the third quarter, Dylan Pallonetti had a pair of goals and Wayne White also scored to open a 14-11 lead. However, Hofstra answered with five straight goals to take a two-goal lead early in the fourth quarter.

Pallonetti’s fifth goal of the game stopped Hofstra’s run and pulled the Seawolves within 16-15 with 11:35 remaining. But Hofstra did not relinquish the lead the rest of the way.

Pallonetti finished with a team-high five goals in the defeat. Tom Haun and Mike McCannell each added a hat trick. Haun moved to 99 career goals.

Stony Book won only 14 of 41 faceoffs.

“Obviously it’s not the result we wanted in a rivalry game,” coach Anthony Gilardi said. “It came down to making stops and winning faceoffs. We struggled in those two areas. Credit to Hofstra. They did a great job of earning high-quality shots and finishing the ball. We will watch the film, learn from it and get back to work on Monday as we open America East play.”

Photo from Stony Brook Athletics

Matt DeMeo works against Bryant midfielder Jon Miller on Saturday at LaValle Stadium. Photo courtesy of Stony Brook Athletics

The Stony Brook men’s lacrosse team cracked the Inside Lacrosse media poll’s top-20 rankings last week for the first time in four years.

And things continue to look up for coach Anthony Gilardi‘s Seawolves in Year 2 at the helm.

No. 20 Stony Brook clamped down on defense after halftime and produced a 14-8 win against Bryant on Feb. 20 at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium.

Stony Brook (2-0) has won consecutive games to open a season for the first time since 2017 — the same season the Seawolves last were ranked.

The Seawolves limited Bryant to one goal after intermission.

Wayne White gave Stony Brook its first lead, 8-7, when he opened the third-quarter scoring with 6 minutes, 55 seconds remaining in the period.

Mike McCannell followed with a goal less than two minutes later for a two-goal cushion and Stony Brook led the rest of the way.

Bryant was held scoreless for 14:16 spanning the middle two quarters. And once that drought was broken to pull the Bulldogs within 9-8, USILA Team of the Week selection Dylan Pallonetti got on the scoreboard for the first time on the afternoon with a tough-angle unassisted goal. That was the first of six straight goals for Stony Brook, which held the Bulldogs scoreless over the final 19:11.

Goalie Anthony Palma made a career-high 16 saves to improve to 2-0 in two collegiate starts.

“We started off rocky, but our defense knows how to play the game,” Palma said. “We just really sunk in and played our game. We didn’t get overexcited. We calmed down and we did what we had to do.”

Said Gilardi about Palma: “He has that in him to get hot. He’s been really consistent this entire year. We knew he would settle in.”

Pallonetti had produced six goals in last Saturday’s season-opening win against Sacred Heart — a program record for a collegiate debut.

Bryant (1-1) had opened Saturday’s game with four straight goals during the opening five minutes. The Seawolves then answered with four straight goals of their own — including the opening pair by Cory VanGinhoven — to even the score at 4 after one quarter.

VanGinhoven produced his second straight hat trick to open the season. McCannell also had a had trick, his first since April 20, 2018, against UMass Lowell.

Matt DeMeo and Matt Anderson contributed  two goals apiece for the Seawolves.

White had a pair of assists in addition to his tiebreaking goal.

Stony Brook avenged a loss at Bryant last year, after which the season was shut down due to the pandemic.

“I wish there was some big Knute Rockne speech at halftime,” Gilardi said. “It was just, ‘Hey, we knew this was what the game was going to be like. Let’s continue to do what we do offensively, defensively and in the clearing game.’ And Palma really stepped up in the goal and made some unbelievable saves.”

Stony Brook returned to action on Saturday, Feb. 27 at Hofstra.

Dylan Pallonetti paced the Seawolves with six goals in his collegiate debut. Photo from Stony Brook Athletics

The Stony Brook men’s lacrosse team waited 343 days to return to game action. The Seawolves then took only 69 seconds to get on the scoreboard.

Stony Brook ultimately opened its 2021 season with a 20-8 win against Sacred Heart on Saturday afternoon at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium.

Stony Brook native Dylan Pallonetti, a redshirt freshman who transferred from Maryland, tallied six goals as well as an assist in his long-awaited collegiate debut — the most goals ever by a Seawolf in his collegiate debut, and the most by a Stony Brook player since Tom Haun had that same output against Binghamton on March 29, 2019.

The 12-goal margin of victory was Stony Brook’s largest since a 14-goal victory against NJIT on Feb. 20, 2015.

The Seawolves last had played on March 7, 2020, after which the season was halted due to COVID-19. 

“It was great to be back out there playing another team,” said Pallonetti, a Ward Melville High School product. “It was the first time in a while. I want to thank my teammates. They supported me the whole way. It was a team effort today.”

Maritime graduate transfer Matt DeMeo, the lone other new arrival in the starting lineup, added a hat trick and two assists in his Seawolves debut. His tally with 7:25 remaining in the third quarter opened a game-high dozen-goal lead. 

“When you look at it, it’s a credit to the guys who are already here,” second-year head coach Anthony Gilardi said about the contributions from Pallonetti and DeMeo. “… We set the table the first day we were here as a new staff, saying we’re going to play unselfish, team lacrosse. One day some guy is going to have a lot of opportunities. The next day it’s going to be somebody else. But if we just do one-sixth offensively, then we’re going to be good. Those guys really bought into it.

“And Dylan and Matt come into the fold and they fit right in seamlessly. The best part about it is our current guys were the ones teaching them the offense.” 

Cory VanGinhoven also had three goals, while Tom Haun and Chris Pickel Jr. contributed a pair apiece. VanGinhoven added a team-high four assists.

Haun passed Alex Corpolongo (95, 2014-17) for ninth on the program’s all-time list with No. 96. Next up: No. 8 Chris Kollmer, who had 97 from 1994 through ’97.

Austin Deskewicz won 12 of 13 faceoffs, and the Seawolves won 23 of 30 overall.

After Jaden Walcot evened the scored at 1 early n the first quarter, Stony Brook rattled off eight straight goals while holding Sacred Heart scoreless for 18:44.

Anthony Palma, who succeeded graduated Michael Bollinger in goal, recorded seven saves in his first collegiate start to earn the win.

“Coach told us all week, ‘We’ve got to make the first move. We’ve got to really end it early,'” Palma said. “I think we came out with great energy and we kept it up the whole game. My defense played phenomenally in front of me. I have no complaints. I think every single one of them played their hearts out. They never let up intensity.”

Stony Brook returns to action next Saturday, Feb. 20 at noon when it hosts Bryant.

Tom Rotanz poses for a photo with a gold medal and trophy after the U-19 team he was an assistant coach of won a world championship. Photo from Tom Rotanz

A familiar face is stepping onto the college lacrosse scene.

Tom Rotanz, a former head boys’ lacrosse coach for Shoreham-Wading River for 18 years, will helm St. Joseph’s College’s new men’s lacrosse program, which will begin its first season in spring 2017.

“It’s something I always wanted to do,” Rotanz said of joining the college ranks. “I think any competitive athlete and coach wants to show someone what good can come from having the right people around you and the good players that are willing to commit themselves, and I hope to have another successful tenure at St. Joseph’s.”

Tom Rotanz will be the first head coach for St. Joseph's College's men's lacrosse program. Photo from Tom Rotanz
Tom Rotanz will be the first head coach for St. Joseph’s College’s men’s lacrosse program. Photo from Tom Rotanz

Rotanz has a long history with lacrosse.

His elder brother was on the team that won Ward Melville’s first Long Island championship in 1974, and the younger Rotanz was part of the squad that won the second and third in 1976 and 1977. The lacrosse captain earned All-American honors as a senior in 1977, after his team also made it to the New York State championship game, the first one for lacrosse. The boys lost that game, 12-11.

From there, he was the captain of the Suffolk County Community College lacrosse team that won a national championship and earned All-American honors twice. He then repeated that feat at Adelphi University, where he was also named an All-American twice.

“Tom was a great player,” said his former high school coach, and a legend on the lacrosse scene, Joe Cuozzo. “He was a great competitor, had a great sense of humor about him, and I really enjoyed working with him.”

As a coach himself, with the Shoreham-Wading River Wildcats’ program only a year old, Rotanz took over a roster of 14 players, including six freshmen. The team went 1-15 his first season, scoring 38 goals on the year. But seven years later, the team was ranked fourth in the country, after winning a New York State championship and scoring close to 400 goals.

“It snowballed into something that was really neat to be a part of,” he said. “In the last 13 years I was there, we won 10 county championships, five Long Island and three New York State. People always wondered why or how we kept winning every year and being ranked one or two in the county. I say if you have bright kids that buy into the system, I think anything is possible.”

Tom Rotanz gets water dumped on his head by a former Shoreham-Wading River team after a win. Photo from Tom Rotanz
Tom Rotanz gets water dumped on his head by a former Shoreham-Wading River team after a win. Photo from Tom Rotanz

Rotanz earned his first of six Suffolk County Coach of the Year honors in 1999, two years before he led the program to its first county championship in 2001. In 2002, the program repeated as Suffolk champs en route to Long Island and New York State titles. The team also swept Suffolk, Long Island and New York State championship titles in 2007 and 2012.

In 2012, the coach added to his list of accolades, serving as an assistant for the 2012 USA Men’s U-19 lacrosse team that won a world championship.

Now, he hopes to be able to bring that same success to St. Joseph’s, and Shantey Hill, assistant vice president and senior director of athletics and recreation for the college, thinks Rotanz is the perfect fit.

“We were very lucky in that Coach Rotanz applied,” she said, referring to the school’s intensive, national search across all NCAA institutions. “He has a plethora of experience, and … he knows the landscape of Long Island, and he’s very well-connected with his peers to be able to do good recruiting for what we’re looking for.”

For Rotanz, being on the scene as long as he has and being a part of Long Island lacrosse, serving as an assistant coach at Smithtown West for the last two years, will be beneficial throughout the recruiting process for the Golden Eagles.

“I’m very close friends with a lot of the Suffolk and Nassau coaches, so they’re already contacting me with players that they think will be a great fit, kids that they think would really like to play for me; so that’s the neat thing.”

He added, laughing, “I think there will be a lot more kids that think about not leaving the Island now, hopefully.”

Tom Rotanz makes a save during a Ward Melville boys' lacrosse game. He helped the team to two Long Island championship titles and a New York State championship appearance. Photo from Tom Rotanz
Tom Rotanz makes a save during a Ward Melville boys’ lacrosse game. He helped the team to two Long Island championship titles and a New York State championship appearance. Photo from Tom Rotanz

According to Hill, the school decided the time was right for a lacrosse program after seeing that a number of Division III student-athletes in the college’s Skyline Conference that commit to play lacrosse come from Long Island and that there was interest with incoming and current students. The college also built a new outdoor athletic facility.

Hill said St. Joseph’s found the right coach in Rotanz.

“We think we hit a home run with coach Rotanz,” she said. “He’s not only a wonderful coach, but also a great man, and he will do great things. We’re looking forward to him not only being the face of the lacrosse program, but also being a mentor to our male student-athletes. His tenure speaks for itself. He’s very well-connected, and he has good relationships with lots of people, and that’s something you can’t put a price tag on.”

Cuozzo, who was inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame, said he used to go to Shoreham-Wading River practices and games to watch his former athlete, and has been thrilled with his approach to the game.

“The way he treats kids, he’s a real student of the game, and I can’t say enough on how proud I am of his accomplishments,” he said. “He brings a winning attitude.”

Rotanz, who said he tries to emulate the ways and successes of his former coach, is competitive, according to Cuozzo.

“He hates to lose — I think he got that from me,” he said, laughing. “I wasn’t a very good loser.”

Luckily, neither one of them has had to do much of that.

Tom Rotanz coaches from the sidelines of a Shoreham-Wading River boys' lacrosse game. Photo from Tom Rotanz
Tom Rotanz coaches from the sidelines of a Shoreham-Wading River boys’ lacrosse game. Photo from Tom Rotanz

Cuozzo compiled a 699-73 record while at the helm of the Patriots’ program. In 2007, he became the head coach at Mount Sinai, where he brought his win total to 747 in his four years before retirement. During his tenure with the Wildcats, Rotanz amassed a 256-99 record.

Cuozzo also thinks Rotanz will be able to draw athletes to the school.

“A lot of kids like to leave Long Island when they are finished with high school — they don’t want to stay local — but knowing Tom, he’s very convincing,” Cuozzo said. “He’ll do his homework. He’ll go out and scout, he’ll go to high school games and he’ll talk, make phone calls. He’s very organized, he’s very knowledgeable about the game, and there’s no doubt in my mind that he’s going to be successful there.”