Nike/LM NCAA Preview: No. 4 Stony Brook (Women)
Stony Brook had a breakthrough season in 2015 with 18 victories, including notable triumphs over Notre Dame, Florida and Northwestern. But the season ended with a disappointing 8-4 loss to Princeton in the second round.
The Seawolves remain loaded and will be determined to prove that last season was just a taste of things to come.
Stony Brook at a Glance
2015 Record: 18-2
3 Big Things
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
For the third straight year, Stony Brook has had the best defense in Division I. At this rate, it’s the defense that has lifted the program to new heights. “Defensively, we’re not going to change a thing,” Spallina said. “It’s still going to be a lockdown defensive unit.” The Seawolves’ defense made up for their weaknesses — draws and saves were ranked 94th and 103rd, respectively. “Whether we scored or let up a goal, we were giving the other team the ball to start,” Spallina said. “We were making stops and getting the ball back to execute offensively. That even speaks larger volumes of our defense with the job they did last year.”
1. Stony Brook welcomes the target on its back.
With momentous wins over Top 10 teams in Florida and Northwestern, Stony Brook officially landed on the map. ESPNW even wrote the headline, “How Stony Brook – Yes, Stony Brook – Became a Lacrosse Power.” It was all about proving people wrong in 2015, but regardless of their success, the Seawolves want to continue that manta this spring. “The target on our backs, we want it there, but we still have the mentality of the hunter,” Spallina said. “We kind of validated ourselves with our performance last year, but we haven’t validated ourselves to ourselves. Now it’s time for us to continue to grow. If you’re not No. 1, you’re nothing. Being the best is the only focus of our kids.”
2. Validating themselves starts with controlling their emotions.
Stony Brook may have had a storybook season, but when it came down to performing in the NCAA tournament, the Seawolves dropped the ball. After earning a first-round bye with the No. 6 seed, they lost to Princeton 8-4. What happened? “When you reflect on the season, part of you wants to say, ‘Maybe if we hadn’t expended so much emotion and energy in those defining moments when we beat a Northwestern or a Florida.’ We used so much emotion in those situations that when we really needed it, we didn’t really have much left in the tank.” Stony Brook has already changed its approach for 2016 – be calm and ready. “Nothing that happens this coming season will be something that they haven’t seen emotionally or physically,” Spallina said. “They’ll be in a position to continue to stride forward.”
3. Spalling knows how to win championships.
Spallina is coming off a year in which he also led the New York Lizards to their first MLL championship since 2003. "He stays hungry," Lizards midfielder and championship game MVP Paul Rabil said. Following the win, Spallina received more than 100 congratulatory text messages, a lot of them from Stony Brook players. “Stony Brook needs to feel what we felt out there in Kennesaw that night,” said Spallina, who won three straight NCAA Division II titles at Adelphi before taking the Stony Brook job in 2011. “That sparked me and driven me to do everything I can in my power to get our kids to experience something like that.”
* returning starters
Ohlmiller was one of three just freshmen to be named a Tewaaraton nominee in 2015. After recording a team-high 86 points, there’s nothing stopping her in 2016. “Kylie is a world-class talent with unparalleled stick skills that stormed onto the national front last year,” Spallina said. “The bigger the game, the bigger her performance."
The 5-foot-5 freshman from Huntington, N.Y. will start in goal for the Seawolves. Tesoriero beat out last year’s starter Kaitlyn Leahy, who previously replaced All-American Frankie Caridi. Syracuse coach Gary Gait complimented Tesoriero’s play during fall ball. “She’s the real deal,” Spallina said. “Anna won the job. She had a great fall.”
Yevoli scored just 13 goals, but Spallina said she was one of the best players during the fall. She also tallied 24 ground balls, 19 draw controls and 15 caused turnovers in 2015. “She’s unbelievable,” Spallina said. “She’s a two-way middie with an unparalleled motor. She never stops – 100 mph in everything.”
Biggest Question Mark
The Seawolves have taken a major dip in performance on the draw since 2013, when they ranked 26th in Division I thanks to current assistant Demmianne Cook, who controlled a team-high 96 draws. They ranked 100th and 94th in 2014 and 2015, respectively. Van Dyke led the team in 2015 with 50 draw controls, but freshman Keri McCarthy is expected to take over Cook’s role as draw specialist. “We put a large emphasis on the draw,” Spallina said. “If we can get to 50 percent on the draw — if we can be an average draw team — we think we can be a team that is playing deep into the season.”
Dorrien Van Dyke led Stony Brook with 50 draw controls last season and also ranked third in goals (39), assists (20) and points (59). (Brian Schneider)
What rival coaches say about the Seawolves
"There’s no doubt - you don’t want to mess with them. They’re a strong team, and they play a physical and aggressive style. They’re not up-and-coming anymore, they’ve arrived. I think Joe does a really nice job with them."
"The Seawolves return nearly everybody from the most successful team in program history and it doesn’t look like they are ready to slow down in 2016."
"Could be the year they make it to Memorial Day weekend."
"Fearless and on a mission to go deeper in NCAAs."
"Big-time midfielder Michelle Rubino graduated."
"Tough team both on offense and defense."
Percent of point production lost, the lowest in the America East, after graduating only three starters. The Seawolves are poised to dominate their conference again, gunning for a fourth consecutive title.
April 17 Johns Hopkins
Stony Brook stormed to an 11-0 start in 2015, joining Maryland as the only teams that were still undefeated more than halfway through the season. But Hopkins crashed the party, defeating the Seawolves 7-5. “That game still bothers me because I felt like they out-toughed us,” Spallina said. “We didn’t play poorly, but we didn’t play with an edge.” Stony Brook will need that edge in 2016 to flip the scales. “That game will have a special meaning to us,” Spallina said. “We get them at home.”
For the first time in program history, Stony Brook will play Stanford. Last season, USC, another up-and-coming squad, was added to Stony Brook’s schedule. (The Seawolves won 7-4). Stanford and USC, which both advanced to the 2015 NCAA tournament, seem to be moving forward together as the two battle for the top spot in the MPSF. Scheduling these out-of-conference games is advantageous for all parties. It boosts strength of schedule and could add a quality win to the books.
Stony Brook wants to go deeper in the NCAA tournament, but can the Seawolves find a way to peak at the right time? “We have very talented players, but it’s a matter of us playing with that edge and bringing that sandpaper X-factor to the game,” Spallina said. “That’s tough thing for a lot of teams to match.”
comments powered by Disqus