By Gene Morris
When the Stony Brook Seawolves men’s lacrosse team walked off the field after being defeated by UMBC in the America East Championship game last spring, they held their heads high knowing they would return nearly every starter from the team that fell 11-7 that day.
“This is a different team, night and day” from last year, said Head Coach Rick Sowell. “We’re a year older, a year wiser.”
First team All-America East selections Kevin Crowley, Jordan McBride, Adam Rand and Steven Waldeck return to lead a team touted as one of the co-favorites, along with UMBC, in the coaches pre-season conference poll.
Juniors McBride and Crowley – the “big guns” as Sowell called them – spearhead an offensive attack that was second in the America East last season, scoring an average of 11.2 goals per game. Overall, the Seawolves shooting percentage was 36.2 percent, far and away the best in the conference. McBride’s team-leading 43.3 percent accuracy was tops on the team, and his 42 goals were second nationally.
The man usually feeding McBride for most of his high quality scoring chances last year was Crowley. A second team pre-season All-American, the midfielder’s 51 points tied for the conference lead; 23 of those points were assists, while 28 were goals.
Both players hail from Canada, and spent much of the off-season playing in their hometown of New Westminster, British Columbia.
“The chemistry between them is unlike any other we have on the team,” Sowell said.
Add in the return of sophomores like Kyle Belton and Robbie Campbell, junior Timmy Trenkle and senior Tom Compitello – who led the team with 25 assists – and the Seawolves offense is bound to be one of the best in the nation.
“We have a really good core on offense,” Sowell said. “Nearly 95 percent of our production is back.”
Senior Charlie Parr will be back in goal for the Seawolves this year. After starting the first twelve games of the season, Parr missed time with injury, but Sowell is convinced that Parr is ready to contribute.
“He had a great preseason,” Sowell said. “He’s the leader of our defense, he’s much improved.”
Also helping anchor the defense is the senior defenseman Waldeck. Waldeck was a first team All-America East selection and led the conference with 6.4 ground balls per game.
All the returning talent excites Sowell, who knows the bulk of the minutes will be in the hands of experienced players.
“Our most improved player will be a heck of a contest,” he said. “It’s not going to be someone who is just stepping up into a bigger role. Our best players have gotten better.”
It all adds up to higher expectations, with the team looking to get back to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2005.
“It’s not about wanting and thinking,” Sowell said. “It’s about going out and doing it, working our butts off, and going about our business.”
The journey begins this weekend when the Seawolves host the Siena Saints at LaValle Stadium.
“We have a great shot this year,” Sowell said. “I’m really looking forward to Saturday.”
The Seawolves host the Siena Saints Saturday afternoon at LaValle Stadium. Faceoff in scheduled for 1:00PM.