Hampered by five yellow cards and a foul differential of 33, Stony Brook Women’s Lacrosse – who led by as many as four goals against the undefeated No. 1 Maryland Terrapins – ended the greatest season in program history with a devastating 13-12 loss, rendered in large part by six Maryland goals in the final 15 minutes of the game.
“I’m not going to talk about the fact that we had 5 cards and they had none. I don’t want to talk about the fact that we had 58 fouls and they had 15. I don’t want to talk about the fact that they had 732 free positions and we had three,” Stony Brook head coach Joe Spallina said. “I want to talk about the fact that my kids played their hearts out and they put this program at a different level and the result, yeah, it stinks and it stings.”
While Spallina preferred not to talk about any of these facts, he had no problem discussing it during the game.
“She just asked for a yellow card and they gave her one!” Spallina shouted from the sideline a few minutes into the second half. Maryland head coach Cathy Reese hollered at the officials about an act of aggression by a Stony Brook player that she believed warranted a yellow card. Moments later, during another play, freshman attacker Taryn Ohlmiller was called for her first yellow card of the season.
“If I ask for a yellow card, will [the official] give me one? This is an embarrassment to the sport,” Spallina shouted, before turning to Ohlmiller and reassuring her. “Hold your head up. This is your first card.”
The frustration was palpable. Both sidelines were barking at officials the whole game, but it was Stony Brook – for a number of reasons – who were on the short end of the 72 total foul calls. Junior defender Carolyn Carrera was hit in the face by a Maryland stick three times, including one that sent her to the ground for half a minute, and was charged with a yellow card twice. The second card, issued with 3:14 left in the second half, forced her out of the game per NCAA rules.
“I mean, when you foul, you get called for fouls,” Reese said. “When there’s 25 ‘3-seconds’ calls a game, it’s definitely going to run up your fouls on the statsheet.”
Stony Brook’s zone defense clogged up the middle the entire game, preventing Maryland attackers from converting. In the first half, the Terrapins, who averaged 17.05 goals a game this season, were limited to six goals, including a stretch of exactly 12 minutes between their first and second goals of the game.
“We played a lot of defense which means we need to focus the whole time, but as a defense I thought we played great,” sophomore goalkeeper Anna Tesoriero said. The starter, who played every minute of every game, had 13 saves. “That’s probably the most [free possessions] I’ve ever seen.”
Terrapin players took a shot or assisted on a goal 11 times on free possessions during the game, but the clock stopped several dozen more times as Stony Brook players were called 58 times for fouls. The nation’s best defense was worn down and their failure to convert stoppages into turnovers doomed them.
After dominating time of possession the whole game, Maryland’s duo of junior attacker Taylor Hensh and sophomore midfielder Jen Giles finally figured out their way through Stony Brook’s defense in the last 15 minutes.
“It was tough. I thought they had a really good gameplan,” Maryland senior midfielder Zoe Stukenberg said. “The key to us beating it was the way Jen Giles was just attacking the zone, making them respect her… opened up Taylor and other people cutting inside.”
Stukenberg, who had kept Maryland within striking distance with three goals and an assist through the first 45 minutes, took a backseat as Hensh scored three goals and assisted on one. Giles netted two herself and assisted on two, including Hensh’s eventual game-winner with 2:14 to go.
For the Seawolves, junior attacker Kylie Ohlmiller capped off one of the greatest individual seasons in women’s lacrosse history with three goals and four assists. Her second assist of the game, to junior midfielder Samantha DiSalvo two minutes into the second half, was her 84th of the season, breaking the Division I single-season record of 83, set by Northwestern’s Hannah Nielsen in 2009.
“I believe [she] cemented her place for the Tewaaraton today,” Spallina said, referring to the award granted to the best men’s and women’s lacrosse player each year. Kylie Ohlmiller is one of the five finalists for the award this season. “Regardless of who was playing on her at any time, get the ball to 17 and good things happen. We just couldn’t get it to her enough.”
Kylie’s sister, Taryn Ohlmiller, had three goals herself. Her second goal, right before the Maryland comeback, was her 100th point of the season. Senior midfielder Dorrien Van Dyke added two goals. DiSalvo, freshman attacker Ally Kennedy, sophomore midfielder Keri McCarthy, and senior midfielder Kristin Yevoli had one goal apiece.
“I think people who watched this game realized who the better team was, that’s us,” Kylie Ohlmiller said. “But it just didn’t go our way in the end, that’s unfortunate.”
After the clock ran out, the Seawolves found themselves in tears. The NCAA quarterfinal was the farthest the team had gotten in program history. Seeding issues aside, Stony Brook had a legitimate shot at a national championship and they knew it.
“It’s been an honor playing with the team that I’ve been playing with all season and I couldn’t be anywhere without any of them,” Kylie Ohlmiller said. “I wish we could have done it for our seniors, but it’s been a helluva ride.”
Seniors that have graduated, in a private ceremony hosted by the athletics department on Wednesday, are Van Dyke, Yevoli, attackers Sam Jaffe, Alyssa Guido and Nichole Doran, as well as defenders Jessica Volpe and Ashley Gomes. Senior attacker Courtney Murphy will return as a graduate student and a redshirt senior after tearing her ACL earlier this season.
“I don’t even know if I’m upset because we lost or because the senior class is gone,” Spallina said. “Those juniors that I have that are going to be seniors just learned from the best seniors that have walked on our campus from any sport.”
Culture is something Spallina talks a lot about, and he credited this class of seniors, his first recruiting class, for establishing Stony Brook as a perennial contender.
“We just went toe-to-toe with the best program in women’s lacrosse and we’re not going anywhere,” Spallina said. “Maybe now there’s more believers, but we don’t want them.”
“Stay off the bandwagon, we’re coming for you next year.”