October 23, 2011

Fall Ball Brief

Stony Brook, Minus the Hype, Adjusting Under New Coach Nagle

by Corey McLaughlin | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

Stony Brook senior midfielder Robbie Campbell, the team's leading returning scorer, will have added responsibility for the new-look Seawolves this spring. "He's a horse," coach Jim Nagle said. "We're just trying to figure out how to use him."

© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com

Much of what made the Stony Brook men's lacrosse team a preseason darling at this time last year now makes the Seawolves a big question mark heading into 2012. Gone are offensive standouts Kevin Crowley, Jordan McBride, Tom Compitello and faceoff man Adam Rand. Gone, too, is former coach Rick Sowell, who left to take the head coaching job at Navy. There are a few pieces in place from the Stony Brook team you've come to know over the past two or so years, but these are largely new times and circumstances for the Long Island program led now by former Colgate coach Jim Nagle.

"You have guys like Kevin, Jordy, Compitello and Rand, growing up for me as a freshman and sophomore, I looked up to those guys," junior defenseman JJ Laforet said. "We've learned a lot from them. Now it's on us."

Fall Ball Priority: The Seawolves are coming off what was a disappointing end to season, losing to Hartford in the America East title game, and then throw in a coaching change. This fall has meant a feeling out process for coaches and players.

"Coach Nagle asked us when he came in, he wants us to have a little bit of blind faith," said senior midfielder Robbie Campbell, now wearing jersey No. 10 formerly worn by Rand. "Just go with him. That's the least we can give him. That's the process we're following right now. That's our mantra. Believing in what we're doing, and believing in the program."

Know This Name: Ryan Keneally. Keneally, a graduate student who played in six games last year as a backup goaltender at Ohio State, appears to have secured the Seawolves' starting goaltender spot. He made a few impressive saves Saturday against Villanova in, unofficially, a 10-8 scrimmage loss at Loyola University. In general, he has earned the respect of the Stony Brook staff and players this fall.

"He's come up big for us. He is good out there, a good leader and communicator," Laforet said.

Campbell's Time: Campbell was all over the field during Saturday's scrimmages. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Canadian played offensive midfield, defensive midfield and the wings on faceoffs. If Stony Brook is to enjoy success this year, it would appear Campbell would be a central figure in that happening. He's the team's leading returning scorer (27 points, just ahead of Russ Bonanno, who had 26 in 2010).

"He's excited to play," Nagle said. "He's a horse; we're just trying to figure out how to use him right now."

Offensive Newbies: With the holes to fill on offense, expect to read some new names in Stony Brook box scores this spring, such as sophomores Mike Rooney and Matt Bellando. Rooney, a former football and lacrosse star at East Islip (N.Y.) High, saw a lot of time on attack. As did Bellando, the 5-foot-5, 170-pound attackman formerly of Saint Andrew's School in Florida. He showed a tenacity and willingness to make what coaches call the little plays out there, along with scoring goals.

At the X: Adam Rand was a luxury for the Seawolves on faceoffs as one of the best specialists in the nation for the last four seasons. But as former Boston Celtics and current Lousiville baskebetball coach Rick Pitino once said of legendary players no longer with the Celtics franchise, "He's not walking through that door," to help out the team this year. Freshman Nick Pellela and sophomore Zach Smith each took faceoffs in the Villanova game.

Verdict: In timeouts during Saturday's scrimmage, Nagle and the coaching staff preached "playing together." It's something easier said than done. The offensive end is where Stony Brook has its question marks. Things look more concrete on paper on the defensive end. The unit, largely new at this time last year, returns a bunch of starters: close defensemen Kyle Moeller, Savaughn Greene, defensive midfielder Jared LeVerne and Laforet, for his second season at long stick midfield. Sophomore Jak Wawrzyniak and senior Greg Miceli, who started a combined six games at close defense last year, also return. (Note: Greene (knee) and LeVerne (hand) did not participate Saturday).

It would be foolish to expect similar success to what Stony Brook had the past two seasons, without the prolific players such as Crowley and McBride that led the program to national acclaim, but one would have to think they should be able to make another run for the America East title.

"We lost quite a bit of talent; can't argue there," Campbell said. "We're getting through it. We're putting in a new system, and working out the kinks. ... We're going to have our ups and downs, but it's how you work through them."


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