Sophomore midfielder Kasey Mitchell dug her cleats into the free-position line of Johnny Unitas Stadium. The scoreboard showed Stony Brook and Towson locked in a 9-9 tie, with just seconds left on the clock. The fate of the game lay cradled in the netting of Mitchell’s lacrosse stick.
For enthusiasts of Stony Brook lacrosse, the similarities were eerie to last season’s America East Championship game, where Mitchell shot the game-winning goal in the final second for the Seawolves’ fourth straight conference win.
This time, Mitchell deferred the heroics to a teammate. She dealt a quick pass to junior attacker Kylie Ohlmiller, who buried a one-time shot with four seconds remaining. The No. 5 Stony Brook Women’s Lacrosse team escaped its season-opener against No. 19 Towson with a 10-9 victory on Saturday afternoon.
The Tigers, who in 2016 ranked sixth in the nation in RPI, a computer rating system, had multiple chances late in the game to seal a win.
With 3:21 left, Towson sophomore attacker Natalie Sulmonte drove through the Stony Brook defense and appeared to score a goal to give her team a 10-8 lead. But Sulmonte was whistled for a dangerous shot attempt, a violation in women’s lacrosse that results from a player wielding her stick in a perilous motion. Stony Brook was granted possession and a two-minute man advantage, trailing 9-8.
On the ensuing possession, senior attacker Courtney Murphy received the ball on the interior of the Tigers defense. Rather than shooting herself, Murphy passed to Ohlmiller on her right, then Ohlmiller passed across the net to junior midfielder, who tied the game.
But Towson recovered the next draw attempt with 1:47 remaining in the game. There was a 17 second difference between the game clock and the 90-second shot clock, the latter of which was installed across the NCAA this season for the sake of increased game speed.
Under the former rules, the Tigers would have been able to run down the entire clock and take a shot at the final horn. Instead, on Saturday, the Seawolves defense denied open looks with tenacity and forced a shot clock violation.
After earning possession, head coach Joe Spallina’s team ran the length of the field, with Mitchell drawing the determinant foul in front of the Towson net.
Both teams were particularly sloppy in the game, the earliest date for a Stony Brook contest in program history. The Seawolves totalled 22 turnovers, while the Tigers lost the ball 23 times. For comparison, Stony Brook averaged 10.3 turnovers per game in 2016.
Senior midfielder Kristin Yevoli scored the first two goals of the game, making her one of four Seawolves players with a pair of tallies. Freshman midfielder Ally Kennedy was among the multi-goal participants, notching the first and second goals of her collegiate career.
Kennedy’s first score, an unassisted goal off a failed clear attempt, gave Stony Brook a 5-2 lead in the first half. Towson responded with three consecutive goals in the final five minutes to tie the match, 5-5, at halftime.
The Tigers took their first lead with 24:08 to play in the second half, when sophomore attacker Carly Tellekamp — a graduate of Hauppauge High School — put her team up 7-6.
It was a quiet season debut for Murphy, who only scored once on seven shot attempts, after setting the NCAA all-time record with 100 goals last season. Murphy’s goal came on a free-position shot in the first half.
Stony Brook will play its first home game of the season on Feb. 18 against Bryant. The Seawolves defeated the Bulldogs, 18-4, in last season’s opener.