(Photo Courtesy of Stony Brook Athletics)
Since its introduction in the fall of 2018, the NCAA Transfer Portal has changed college lacrosse, and college sports in general, for good. The portal has streamlined the transfer process and in turn given players more power than ever before over the direction of their college lacrosse careers.
The portal’s arrival onto the scene, coupled with the extra season players got following the 2020 season being cut short, has contributed to a rise in transfers in college lacrosse the likes of which the sport has never seen before. In turn, many coaches have had to adjust the way in which they attack and approach roster management. It’s not just recruiting high school players anymore. Coaches must also be actively be recruiting in the portal as well as against it.
College lacrosse has certainly changed a lot in that regard over the past three seasons, and while some programs have continued to be more traditional some have gone all in on this new era and fully embraced it. Stony Brook, led by head coach Anthony Gilardi, is very much in the camp of those who have embraced it. They are also among the programs who stand to gain the most in this new era of college lacrosse that we are just seeing to take fold.
Stony Brook isn’t the biggest program in the state of New York. In fact, historically speaking, they aren’t even the most successful program on Long Island. But the Seawolves have had success nonetheless, making three NCAA Tournament Appearances (2002, 2010, 2012) which includes a Quarterfinal appearance in 2010.
America East Semifinal appearances have become the norm as of late at Stony Brook as the program has seen their season end in the conference semifinals seven of the past nine seasons. With Gilardi taking over ahead of the 2020 season and giving the program a new face, this staff’s approach to this new era of college lacrosse might be exactly what Stony Brook needs to get back to the top of the America East, and ultimately to NCAA Tournament.
Being on Long Island, the Seawolves have one of the most plentiful backyards in college lacrosse. The No. 1 rated recruit in both the 2020 and 2021 recruiting classes hailed from Long Island and nine players selected for the 2021 Under Armour All-American senior game hailed from the Island. And while Stony Brook isn’t getting the top players from their backyard anytime soon with programs like Duke and Maryland raiding the Island year in and year out, there is a new opportunity for the Seawolves to make waves with players from Long Island each year via the transfer portal.
Whether a player was highly recruited out of high school or blew up in college, Stony Brook and their aggressive approach to the portal gives many of those players a landing spot shall they want to come home and finish their college lacrosse career on their native Long Island.
Currently, Stony Brook has nine players on their 2022 men’s lacrosse roster that began their careers elsewhere. Only one, Antonie Campbell, is a JuCo transfer. The other eight joined the Seawolves after stops at other four-year colleges. Of those eight, six hail from Long Island.
Dylan Pallonetti is the most notable of the bunch. A 2019 Under Armour All-American selection, the attackman was one of the most highly sought after recruits in the country and ultimately chose to sign with the Maryland Terrapins. After a shortened 2020 season in College Park where he saw no action, Pallonetti shipped back up to Long Island and landed at Stony Brook. The attackman led the team in points with 55 (36G/19A) last season and was name both the America East Player of the Year and Rookie of The Year.
Matt DeMo, who was the Seawolves’ fifth-leading scorer last season, played four years at DIII Maritime College before finding his way to Stony Brook as a grad transfer with two-years of eligibility left ahead of the 2021 season.
Renz Conlon came to Stony Brook after playing for DII Franklin Pierce as a freshman in 2019. He was the Seawolves top option at the dot in 2020 and backup in 2021. Defensive midfielder Jimmy Burns came to Stony Brook last season as a sophomore after play for UMass Lowell as a freshman in 2020.
This past summer, Stony Brook landed five transfers in Kevin Mack (Michigan) Ryan Pallonetti (Franklin & Marshall), Nick Squicciarini (LIU), Kyle Love (UMass Lowell), and Jacob Williams (Mount Olive). Mack, Pallonetti, brother of Dylan, and Squicciarini are all from Long Island. Williams is a Texas native and had an outstanding career as a DII player where he was a multi-time All-American, and looks to bring that same quality of play to Stony Brook.
Former Michigan attackman Kevin Mack highlights the Seawolves’ transfer class as he returns to his native Long Island after a four-year career in Ann Arbor that came to a rough end as he was injured much of last season. Mack started his career at Michigan with a bang as he was named the 2018 Big Ten Freshman of The Year. He put up a career total of 95 points (53G/42A) with the Wolverines. If fully healthy, he is expected to be a huge asset for the Seawolves offense this spring, and will be another example of a high-profile player coming back home to finish his college lacrosse career.
Stony Brook probably isn’t going to make massive waves every summer landing the best transfers on the market, even if they are Long Island natives. But taking a guy like Dylan Pallonetti or Matt DeMo every few years that can come in and provide an instant impact upon stepping foot on campus, especially at an area of need, can go a long way. And if in addition to taking a former highly-rated high school recruit or small college star you hit on a “project guy” or two every so often, that’s where the effort in the transfer portal really pays off.
Of course, no team can live solely off transfer portal additions as programs must also be able to bering in the right high school recruits as well. But the transfer portal can be a great tool for a program like Stony Brook where they can use it to help fill in those gaps, bring in more maturity and experience, and ultimately help them fill out a roster capable enough of getting over that hump and back atop the America East.