When Stony Brook Athletics first joined the realm of Division I sports in 1994, not much was expected of the program. After some time to adjust, the Seawolves broke through in the conference for the first time in 2002, when Men’s Lacrosse defeated top-seeded Albany, followed by a conference baseball crown in 2004 when Matt Senk’s squad took down host Maine.
Stony Brook’s program was becoming one to notice.
Head football coach Chuck Priore took over in 2006 and within three years, his squad won the Big South Conference. Four years later, the team had four championship rings and a remarkable 21-3 record in the conference with two appearances in the NCAA Division I Football Championship’s second round.
Other teams were quick to follow, with Women’s Cross Country recording six straight titles between 2007-2012, Men’s Soccer taking home a conference title in 2011 and Women’s Soccer winning the America East just a year later.
However, since the women’s soccer team won the conference in 2012 and then were eliminated by the University of Maryland in the NCAA Tournament, fall sports have failed to win a conference championship.
The reputation of winning was built around the turn of the decade, with the six fall sports teams combining for 12 conference championships from the years 2009-2012. But over the last two years, between the six squads, zero crowns have been won, raising the question of when it will happen again, if at all.
As for football, after a stretch of 21-3 in the conference, the team has put together a less-than-impressive 7-9 mark in their new league, the Colonial Athletic Association. The team has not had its overall record hit .500 over the last two seasons.
Men’s Soccer, after reaching double digits in wins for three straight seasons, combined for 10 wins over the last two years, while only making it as far as the America East quarterfinals in 2014.
Head coach Sue Ryan’s women’s soccer team had its worst season since 2011 last year, recording only five wins and not qualifying for the postseason for the first time since that season as well.
Cross country head man Andy Ronan has had great runners like Eric Speakman and Christina Melian, but neither the men’s or women’s teams, nor the individuals, have won a championship since they swept the titles in 2012.
With the ambitions of expanding the stadium, creating a soccer facility and winning NCAA tournament games included in Athletic Director Shawn Heilbron’s “Together We Transform” plan, the time to start stringing winning seasons together again is now.
“Together We Transform is more than just the name of our five-year vision, it is the engine that will power our program to unprecedented heights,” Heilbron said in a Stony Brook Athletics department news release from June 29.
This envisioning plan, along with winning programs, will succeed the goals that Heilbron has set for the entire Seawolves athletic arsenal.
Football is finding stability at the quarterback position after uncertainty throughout the early parts of last season. Both Men’s Soccer and Women’s Soccer find themselves a year older and more experienced, with youth being a weakness a season ago. Volleyball is beginning to find its way into the meat of the conference again and cross country is cultivating young talent to replace the talent that has left and gone on.
The teams are in a position now to win and end the drought that has existed since the fall of 2012. With a plan in place to put these programs into national spotlights, winning is the first step to creating a top athletic culture at Stony Brook.
With this new plan in place, Stony Brook’s teams need to start making gains so the department as a whole can move up in the realm of NCAA Division I Athletics and getting into better conferences. Winning titles again would prove that the Athletics program is worthy of the new facilities and the upgrades that are outlined in Together We Transform.