The Stony Brook Seawolves entered the weekend with their destiny in their own hands – beat Kings Point Friday and Iona Sunday, scoring a bonus point in each match, and you’re the Empire Champions and headed to the postseason. They did just that, eking out a two-point, 26-24, win over Kings Point, which was also in the playoff hunt, and surviving Iona 31-17.
Stony Brook was already battered going into the all-important two-match weekend, having lost starting hooker Marty Freda and top-line forward reserve James Mutino in a brutal game against St. Bonaventure the week prior.
Saturday, Kings Point brought the wood and knocked out another few Seawolves, forcing Stony Brook to reach deep into the reserve pool for Sunday’s game.
“I give the kids an unbelievable amount of credit,” said Stony Brook coach Jerry Mirro. “This is a huge undertaking for any club. It’s one thing if nothing’s on the line.”
Stony Brook built a comfortable lead against Kings Point Friday, 26-10 in the second half, but the Merchant Marines in training didn’t fade, scoring a pair of tries to pull within two with just a few minutes to play.
“They just kept coming. Very physical. Their fitness obviously is phenomenal,” said Mirro. “We had two yellow cards in the last 20 minutes that hurt us tremendously. Playing down to 14 against them is not the best thing in the world. I give them a hell of a lot of credit. They just kept coming back.”
Kings Point took possession following the restart after their last try. The would-be go-ahead drive made it inside Stony Brook’s 22, but the Seawolves turned the ball over and cleared to touch to secure the win. Stony’s best defensive center was lost in the contest, and altogether, the Seawolves were down six starters for Sunday’s game.
Iona took advantage of the inexperience in Stony Brook’s backline early, and the game was close, 14-10, at halftime. The Seawolves kicked it into high gear in the second half, however, taking a 31-10 lead before conceding a try at the death.
“My kids, they just had their back to the wall and dug themselves in,” said Mirro. “They bent but they didn’t break. They played a real, real aggressive game.”
Stony Brook still has one more conference game left, Saturday against Brockport, but the conference title is already in hand. The Seawolves will lean heavily on their reserves in an effort to give their starters a much-needed break before heading into the American Collegiate Rugby Championship playoffs.