Stony Brook University introduced its new men's and women's lacrosse coaches Tuesday and both voiced duplicate goals, which brought collective smiles to the raise-the-athletic-bar administration of president Samuel Stanley. "We look forward to new heights under your leadership," Stanley said as men's coach Jim Nagle and women's coach Joe Spallina listened at a shared table. Both received equal billing in a joint news conference on the first day of summer. School's out, but both coaches have already started working on their new jobs.
Spallina, the ultraconfident coach who won three straight national championships at Division II Adelphi, was first to speak. Athletic director Jim Fiore introduced him by joking that there was only room for one ego -- Fiore's -- and a laughing Spallina conceded that, but nothing else. "The people right here," Spallina, 38, said of Stanley, Fiore and senior women's administrator Donna Woodruff, "did not [host] the national championship to watch Northwestern and Maryland. The average is not acceptable."
Stony Brook's women's team has never made the NCAA Tournament, so Spallina has his work cut out for him. But Nagle, who spent the last 10 seasons at Colgate, takes over a team that moved into the national scene over the last two seasons, nearly advancing to the Final Four in 2010 and just missing another NCAA appearance this past season.
The 40-year-old Nagle's mission statement: "Compete for America East titles and advance in the NCAA Tournaments, those are our goals." Nagle was 86-64 at Colgate, but had no scholarships in the Patriot League. Stony Brook has the maximum 12.6, Fiore said, and an administration eager to provide the wherewithal to succeed.
Nagle grew up in Stony Brook and played lacrosse at nearby Ward Melville High School in the late 1980s. His former coach, Joe Cuozzo, said that Stony Brook was not a prime destination for recruits in those years. It was the beginning phase of scholarships for the sport and there was no stadium. "I think the atmosphere is night and day," Cuozzo said. "Now, local players are willing to stay home and play at Stony Brook. Now, Stony Brook is well respected in the lacrosse world."
Nagle will have to find replacements for graduated stars such as Kevin Crowley and Jordan McBride. Former coach Rick Sowell, now at Navy, did not leave the cupboard bare as high school All-Americans Mike Scalera and Connor Duddy of Comsewogue have committed to Stony Brook. "I think it is great that he is here," said defenseman Kyle Moeller, a Ward Melville graduate. "I know he comes from a traditional lacrosse [power] in high school and knows a lot about the game."
Spallina has somewhat of a rebuilding project after the team went 4-11 in Allison Comito's final season, but the new coach could be aided by some transfers from Adelphi. "I'm sure some people may have put in their request for releases," Spallina said.