May 15, 2010

Feature: Stony Brook Coach Sowell Earning His Stripes With Seawolves

By Jim Furlong
Special to

STONY BROOK, N.Y. -- Two teams with long winning streaks collided Saturday night on eastern Long Island.

And Kevin Crowley scored three goals, including the go-ahead goal in the fourth quarter, as eighth-seeded Stony Brook eliminated ninth-seeded Denver, 9-7, in the opening round of the NCAA Division I men's lacrosse tournament.

The Seawolves improved their winning streak to nine games and earned their university's first NCAA victory. The Pioneers had their school-record nine-game winning streak stopped and were denied their first NCAA post-season lacrosse victory.

Tom Compitello added three goals for the home team. Goalkeeper Charlie Parr made nine saves as the Seawolves gained a 4-2 margin in the second half, and finished with a 29-25 advantage for ground balls and 29-26 for shots. Adam Rand won 12 of his 19 faceoffs.

"This is huge for us as a program," said Compitello, a senior attackman. "You come here to compete at the highest level. Personally, it is a dream come true."

Crowley, the 2010 America East men's player of the year, gained the upper hand against Denver senior defenseman Dillon Roy, and the junior attackman converted a 10-yard no-look shot, unassisted, for the score which built a 7-6 lead with 11:29 remaining.

"You keep thinking to yourself that when you get those chances, you have to bury them," said Crowley.

With 4,262 spectators watching, Compitello's 36th goal made the score 8-6 before Denver sophomore Mark Matthews scored his fourth goal of the game with 6:05 to go. Crowley added his 49th goal to complete the scoring with 3:37 on the clock.

"We didn't do so hot on faceoffs. That killed us," said Roy. "Crowley got the better of me and we had some mental lapses. They also got the extra ground balls."

Denver coach Bill Tierney ended his first season in Colorado with a 12-5 record.

"Give Stony Brook all the credit," said Tierney. "They changed up their defense and they caught us a little bit unaware. They slid early and jumped in our face. I though both goalkeepers came up big. Charlie (five saves in the fourth quarter) played a great game.

"They've got a gorilla (in Crowley). All his goals were big and powerful."

Stony Brook coach Rick Sowell praised defensive midfielder Steve Waldeck for his frequent alert reactions..

"He got 11 ground balls," said Sowell. "We have been telling people our defense has been playing better. That is the reason we won today."

The Seawolves, who avenged a 13-12 home loss against Denver on March 10, limited the Pioneers to only two goals (none in the third quarter, during a 32-minute span beginning midway through the second quarter.

"Stony Brook, the last time we played them, was haphazard," said Tierney. "They were up and down. Today they were4 smart and skilled. And they scored two goals off faceoffs."

Sophomore attackman Alex Demopoulos finished with two goals and a game-high four assists.

Denver had 16 turnovers, four more than Stony Brook.

Stony Brook scored the lone goal in the third quarter to grab a 6-5 advantage. Sophomore attackman Kyle Belton got loose in close and drilled his 21st goal with 1:08 on the clock

During the first half, the two teams appeared evenly matched and battled to a 5-5 tie after 30 minutes.

Stony Brook led in shots, 17-11, and ground balls, 15-13.

Denver, which played a slow pace aiming to control possession, scored on two of three extra man opportunities, while Stony Brook went 0-2.

The Pioneers, with several long possessions, did not trail and owned a 4-2 margin before the Seawolves scored three straight goals, two by Compitello.

With 4:23 reaming in the second quarter, Compitello darted from behind the cage to shoot past goalkeeper Peter Lowell, who made 11 saves. Compitello's 35th goal this season gave the home team its first lead, but the visitors responded when Demopoulos converted an EMO with 1:33 remaining.