(Photo Courtesy of Stony Brook Athletics)
The first full season under Anthony Gilardi ended just as every Stony Brook season, with the exception of the shortened 2020 campaign, has for the past nine years: an America East semifinals loss.
Under Rick Sowell in the early 2010s and JP Nagle after him, Stony Brook has remained amongst the cream of the crop in the America East. And that reputation has continued to hold true through the first two seasons of the Gilardi era. However, the Seawolves have been unable to win the conference and make it back to the NCAA Tournament since 2012. Stony Brook has recently won the regular-season conference titles in 2018 and 2019, however, they haven’t won a postseason game in nine years.
This past season, the Seawolves went 8-6 overall and 6-3 in America East play. Two of those conference losses came in their final two games of the regular season, falling to UMBC by one goal for a second time in a single season before falling to Vermont by one to end the regular season. The eventual conference champion Catamounts beat the Seawolves again just six days later in the conference semifinals.
2022 marks a decade since the Seawolves last won the America East and earned the right to play in the NCAA Tournament. A decade after last being the kings of the conference, can Stony Brook put all the pieces together and take back to America East title as they once did?
Offense was the highlight of this team in 2022, featuring the nation’s fourth-best scoring offense (14.36 goals per game) while also having the 18th-best team shooting percentage (.302%). The Seawolves also had the ninth-ranked man-up unit in DI, cashing in on .434% of their opportunities.
Two of their top five point-getters will return from last season in redshirt sophomore attackman Dylan Pallonetti and fifth-year midfielder Mike McCannell. Pallonetti, who was named the America East Offensive Player of The Year and Rookie of The Year, led the team in both points (55) and goals (36)last season while also being second on the team in assists with 19. McCannell was the Seawolves’ third-leading scorer this past spring with 38 points off 19 goals and 19 assists.
In addition to the aforementioned Pallonetti and McCannell, the Seawolves return midfielders Wayne White (3G/5A), who returns for an extra season, and Matt Anderson (21G/11A). Senior midfielder Caleb Pearson (7G/4A) is another solid contributor returning in 2022 who could very well see an increased role, along with plenty of others. The midfield trio combined for 19 starts last season as some of the Seawolves’ most reliable options at the position behind McCannell and now-graduated Chris Pickle, Jr.
Former Michigan attackman Kevin Mack hopped into the transfer portal as a grad transfer this summer and decided to take his talents to Stony Brook, where he is expected to make a sizable impact on this Seawolves’ offense and fill some holes they do have. Mack had a rough senior season with the Wolverines, seeing action in just five games with one start due to injuries. However, the Manhasset, N.Y., native was a full-time starter during his first three years in Ann Arbor and tallied a career total of 95 points (53G/42A).
While it’s hard to say if the Seawolves will have a top-five offense again this spring with as many losses as they have, but with Pallonetti headlining this unit again, the top returners they do have, and the addition of Mack, the potential is certainly there. That is especially true if the Seawolves can find similar or greater success at the faceoff dot to gain that possession advantage.
Austin Deskewicz went 164-for-298 (55%) at the dot last season as the Seawolves’ primary option at the dot. He ranked third in the America East in faceoff win percentage.
Stony Brook saw improvement on the back end last season, ending the year ranked 26th nationally in scoring defense (10.64 goals allowed per game). That’s after allowing an average of 13 goals per game during the shortened 2020 season.
Junior defenseman Michael Sabella (23GB/14CT) is the Seawolves’ top returning pole and only returning starter at close with the CJ Trenkel and Danny Cassidy, as well as LSM Devin O’Leary now gone. However, Sabella is far from the only impact returnee on the back end for this Stony Brook squad as they will also see junior LSM Christian Lowd (39GB/10CT) and their top SSDM in senior David Estrella (25GB/8CT) return. The two look to build upon uber-strong 2021 campaigns.
The same can be said for senior goalie Anthony Palma, who shined as a first-year starter this past spring. He made 154 saves with a .514% save percentage.
While this Stony Brook defense might not be a little less experienced in some respects than they were a year ago, this unit still returns a very solid and proven core to build around. And no matter who steps up to fill the holes they have, this unit has the potential to replicate what they did a season ago.