No. 1-seeded Stony Brook Women’s Lacrosse has been one of the most powerful offenses in the country since head coach Joe Spallina took over in June 2011. The team has been atop the offensive statistical rankings for years, and the offense has helped the Seawolves become a national powerhouse.
However, the team’s defense has been dominating, and doesn’t get nearly enough attention.
“I think it’s pretty evident the kind of offense we have,” head coach Joe Spallina said after a 20-2 win over Vermont on March 30. “Defensively, we’re really starting to get it. Everyone is getting on the same page. We really worked on getting back to our style and not tweaking things to fit what other teams are doing.”
The team has been ranked as the number one scoring defense in the country all but two years since Spallina has been coach — his first season in 2012 they were ranked 14th, and the 2016 season they were ranked second.
Spallina has relied on two members of his team to control the defense for the last few years — redshirt-senior defender Brooke Gubitosi and junior goalkeeper Anna Tesoriero. The team put on a defensive showcase against then No. 20-ranked Denver to obtain the number one ranking in the country the following Monday.
Despite that, it seems like the team can flip a switch on defense so quickly and shut down its opponents. But that is not always the case.
“I don’t think it’s a cognizant thing we think about,” Gubitosi said. “I think when Coach comes in and says ‘we need to do this, this and this,’ we’re just extra focused and locked down with what he says to us in practice and before the game.”
The team has taken what Spallina said to them and rolled with it ever since. The Seawolves have given up less than five goals in three of their past four games and are one of the two undefeated teams in the country in the top 20. Once the defense gets hot, it’s difficult to stop them.
“I think us playing against the offense that we have every day in practice is what makes us who were are,” Gubitosi said. “Getting the opportunity of getting to play against [senior attacker Kylie Ohlmiller, redshirt-senior attacker Courtney Murphy and sophomore attacker Taryn Ohlmiller], one of the best attacking units in the country, it’s crazy to think that that’s our scout offense. They make us so much better.”
The defenders are motivated each practice to make themselves better because they know the moment they tense up in training, their coaches will get on them.
“The minute we slow down and let them get on us, we’re not getting better and neither are they so it makes us go head-to-head and makes us compete every day,” Tesoriero said. “Our coaches push us every day, so if we say, ‘oh we can take a rep off,’ our coaches are on top of us, pushing us to do our best.”
Stony Brook gives up an average of 6.09 goals per game, according to NCAA.com. The team has averaged five to six goals against per game since Spallina was hired. The team looks to continue its undefeated streak and lockdown defensive play on Friday, April 13 with a home game against Johns Hopkins.
“We know what we have to get done,” Tesoriero said. “Like [Gubitosi] said, there’s a list of things that we focus on. So there isn’t a switch to turn on per say, we just hope to turn it on every single game.”