Nike/LM NCAA Preview: No. 19 Stony Brook (Men)
In the absence of Albany's Lyle Thompson, the America East could be Stony Brook's to claim. The Seawolves return some serious offensive firepower in the British Columbia duo Brody Eastwood and Challen Rogers and the defense is now complemented by goalie Zach Oliveri.
Stony Brook is ranked No. 19 in the Nike/Lacrosse Magazine Preseason Top 20.
Stony Brook at a Glance
2015 Record: 13-5
3 Big Things
1. The America East window has opened.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
When Stony Brook gets opportunities to score, it cashes in, as evidenced by its absurdly (and consistently) high shooting percentage. Brody Eastwood has led the country the last three seasons in the statistic, including a 63.9-percent mark in 2015.
Albany has owned the conference by letting the Thompsons dominate their America East competition in recent years. But with two-time Tewaaraton Award Lyle Thompson finally gone from the conference, opportunities arise for other America East teams, most notably, Stony Brook. "Lyle's one of the best players of all-time," Nagle said. "To say that that wasn't difficult, that would be a lie."
The Seawolves are well positioned, with a high-octane offense and a talented addition in net, to take advantage of the opening and topple the Great Danes for the first time since 2012.
2. BC connection lighting up scoreboards.
British Columbia natives Brody Eastwood and Challen Rogers will carry the load on offense for Stony Brook, hauling with them 303 career points into their senior seasons. Each of them has a chance to stamp their place in the Stony Brook record books, Eastwood eyeing the career goals record (he enters 29 shy of Jordan McBride) while Rogers targets the career assists record (42 behind Mike Rooney).
This year's offense may be even better than last year's steered by Rooney—or at least better in the clutch. "Quite often, the best offensive team isn't necessarily the team that scores the most but performs when you need them to," Nagle said.
3. The goalie carousel should stop on Oliveri.
Stony Brook started three different goalies in each of the last two seasons, a revolving door in net that yielded few answers for the Seawolves. Now, the addition of Zach Oliveri from UMass may halt the merry-go-round in 2016. Oliveri started in 43 straight games for the Minutemen and figures to slot ahead of Brandon Maciejewski, Hayden Johnstone, Patrick Fleming and Dan Comber, though Nagle has not yet named a starter.
Stony Brook ranked 48th in the nation in scoring defense, 67th in saves per game and 53rd in caused turnovers per game.
Zach Oliveri (Sr.)
* returning starters
The British Columbia product has had a remarkable career so far, scoring 146 goals in his first three seasons, shooting a combined 61.1 percent in the process.
Oliveri opted to use his final year of eligibility back on his native Long Island after starting for three years at UMass. He has 26 games of at least 10 saves.
Sheets started six games as a freshman filling in for the injured Matt Schultz, tallying 15 points. He'll be part of a deep group of attackmen vying for playing time.
Biggest Question Mark
Sichenzia started seven games in his first two seasons, but only saw action in six contests in 2015 after suffering a hamstring injury. Nagle mentioned him as an option at attack instead of his normal midfield slot.
Second team all-America East senior Lucas Rock and goalie Zack Oliveri will provide the necessary leadership for the Seawolves defensive unit. (Greg Shemitz)
What rival coaches say about the Seawolves
"No. 4's graduation from Albany makes them better. Rooney will be tough to replace."
"This is a big year for the mythical creatures of the northern shores of Long Island. Only lost one offensive weapon (Rooney) from last year's potent squad. Challen Rogers is a big, strong midfielder with outstanding vision and ability to score himself as he can run through any LSM. Brody Eastwood may end up being the most accurate shooter in the history of lacrosse: Dylan Molloy needed 184 shots to score 62 goals; Eastwood scored just as many with about half as many shots. The entire defense returns and now a strong goalie finally backs everyone up. Zach Oliveri is a huge addition to this team as this was the missing piece to the puzzle. Seawolves win the American East, knocking off the Great Danes, and go the Show."
"Rooney was excellent and he will be missed but bigger than him is the system Nagle runs offensively. They are still going to score a lot of goals. Eastwood and Rogers return from having big seasons a year ago."
"I think they'll be a challenge. They have Brody Eastwood and Challen Rogers for sure. They're two tough players to play against. To me, they play a good style. I like the way they get up and down the field. They like to take advantage of transition if they can. I think their goalie is a pretty good goalie. They had two young goalies last year. Last year, they were in the mix. They beat Princeton. They beat a couple top-20 teams. I think they're right there as well."
Of Stony Brook's 12 leading scorers from a season ago, all but one (Mike Rooney) return for 2016, including six players who scored at least 10 goals. Among 2015's top 10 scoring teams, only Harvard has more top 12 scorers returning.
16 Sacred Heart
21 St. John's
March 19 at Albany
Albany is the hill Stony Brook must climb to reclaim the conference title, and the game was undoubtedly circled after a 13-goal embarrassment in the America East championship game.
Nagle added volunteer assistant coach Jay Mauro to the Stony Brook staff in the offseason. Mauro, who coached Long Island's Sachem North over the past 11 years, will help coach the defense and the substitution box.
The Seawolves have always had the offense to contend, but the addition of Zach Oliveri could push them to the front of the conference.
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