Stony Brook University will be the host of the 2018 NCAA Division I Women’s Lacrosse Championships, the NCAA announced on Tuesday. The national semifinal and final matches will take place at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium.
“Women’s lacrosse has a strong presence on Long Island and it gives us tremendous pleasure to be selected to host the 2018 NCAA Division I Championship at Stony Brook University,” Stony Brook Athletics Director Shawn Heilbron said in a statement. “We look forward to once again partnering with the NCAA to showcase the very best in women’s lacrosse and welcome fans from across the country to our great university.”
Stony Brook also hosted the NCAA Championships in women’s lacrosse in 2011 and 2012, both of which were won by Northwestern. The championship games drew exceptionally large crowds for the sport, with 8,011 people in attendance for the 2011 title game and 7,127 in 2012 — two of the six largest crowds in NCAA women’s lacrosse history.
With the Stony Brook Women’s Lacrosse team emerging as a national powerhouse in recent years, entering last season’s NCAA Tournament as a No. 6 seed, it seems natural to fantasize about the Seawolves participating as a home team in the national semifinals and finals in 2018. However, head coach Joe Spallina would prefer to not look that far ahead.
“It’s a long ways away,” Spallina said after the team’s practice on Wednesday. “It would be crazy not to think, ‘how great would it be for us to be playing in it, as the home team?’ and we expect to be playing in it. I don’t think the university submits a bid for Stony Brook to host a final four without it being in the back of their head that our team could possibly be playing in it.”
“I think it’s great for Long Island lacrosse,” he added. “Long Island, in my opinion, is the hub of lacrosse.”
The team’s underclassmen, including sophomore attacker Kylie Ohlmiller, will still be on the Seawolves team when Stony Brook is slated to host the championship weekend, and could potentially play in the games. These players are using the ultimate dream scenario as a motivator moving forward.
“I remember coming in high school to the national championship when it was hosted here,” Ohlmiller, the team’s leader in points last season, said. “I was thinking then, ‘how sick would it be to play as the home team in the national championship?’ and now it’s possible. That’s definitely something that we’re going to be reaching for.”
The Seawolves, ranked No. 7 in the Inside Lacrosse media poll, will open their 2016 season in Rhode Island, where they face Bryant on Feb. 28.