Under Head Coach Spallina, the Seawolves roughed up their opponents with a 7-4 win. KELLY ZEGERS / THE STATESMAN
Under Head Coach Spallina, the Seawolves roughed up the USC Trojans on Saturday with a 7-4 win. KELLY ZEGERS / THE STATESMAN

USC was not the Bucknell team that the Stony Brook women’s lacrosse team dismantled in an 18-1 blitzing on opening day last season. Yet, Head Coach Joe Spallina’s Seawolves handled the Trojans just the same, beating a much better Trojans squad by a score of 7-4.

USC previously lost to the No. 5 team in the country, the Northwestern Wildcats. Spallina made it a point before the season to tout the strength of his team’s offense, but it was the aggressive nature of the Seawolves’ zone defense that suffocated the Trojans.

“We knew our defense was going to be the thing today,” Spallina said. “It’s a great first ‘W’ against a great opponent, well-coached, great athletes and beating Southern Cal, USC, is a nice ‘W’ for Stony Brook.”

As the Seawolves welcomed a team from across the country in their first game, they brought in a local tradition to account for giving the team credit for their performance.

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Like the New York Rangers, Spallina and company are welcoming the Broadway Hat tradition to the team. Whoever gets the hat will than be able to sign it, decorate it and add their own touch to it, spreading the wealth of the victory rather than just letting those who show up in the papers shine.

“I think it’s a lot of times the kids who show up on the stat sheet get a lot of the love,” Spallina said. “We’re not taking away from that, but we’re going to give [it to] an offensive player, a defensive player and than an unsung hero each game.”

On Saturday afternoon, however, the hat was not a necessity to show the few fans in attendance on a frigid day at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium that the Seawolves could put in a complete team performance.

That includes a couple of newcomers to Stony Brook, as freshmen Kylie Ohlmiller and Samantha DiSalvo were both all over the field.

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“Our incoming freshmen this year, they play a big role,” sophomore Dorrien Van Dyke said. “Sam DiSalvo, she gets up and down the field, plays offense and defense well. Kylie, she is a sick attacker, she can get the shot off at any level, behind her back, when she’s mid-fall, she can just do it all.”

It may not have showed in her numbers for the game, but it was DiSalvo who was playing a very Michelle Rubino-esque game.

At one moment, she would be in the attacking third, keeping the ball cycling throughout the offense. The next, back on the defensive end, rushing to whomever held the ball for the opposing Trojans.

In the third of the field that many do not track as closely, DiSalvo held down the midfield, fighting for every ground ball. She would scoop up two in the contest.

Ohlmiller, who Spallina said could be among Tewaaraton Award favorites as the best player in the nation by the time her career comes to an end, did not end up tallying her first career goal for the Seawolves.

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Instead, she did everything else to help her team win. Many if not all of Stony Brook’s possessions went through the newcomer, and she contributed two assists.

She almost notched her first as a Seawolf with a highlight-reel worthy shot while falling over just outside of the crease, but the goal was disallowed by the referees for an illegal stick.

One of Stony Brook’s key defenders, redshirt junior Maegan Meritz, who was named to the America East’s Second Team last season, showed toughness all game long. She was hit hard twice in the face, yet still managed to get after it aggressively, helping keep the Trojans’ offense in check.

“That’s really a tribute to the way she plays,” Spallina said about Meritz’s positioning on the field. “A year ago or two years ago she would have gotten her stick there and fouled somebody, now she’s getting her body in those areas.”

Surprising nobody were Van Dyke and fellow sophomore Courtney Murphy, who topped the scoring list for freshmen across the nation last season. Both scored two goals in the solid season-opening win.

Stony Brook looks to make it 2-0 on the season when the Seawolves host Drexel on Feb. 28 at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium.

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