Junior midfielder Ally Kennedy received the ball at around midfield and ran toward the opposing team’s goal — a familiar sight to fans in attendance and a scary sight for the Albany Great Danes.
Her blazing-fast speed carried her past her defender, causing Albany’s defense to collapse. She turned her head slightly and casually passed the ball to an open sophomore midfielder Siobhan Rafferty, who found the back of the net. With only 14 seconds off the game clock, Stony Brook led 1-0 against its conference rival.
In the Seawolves’ wins this past weekend against Albany and #13 USC, the duo of Kennedy and Rafferty carried the offensive workload, scoring 65% of the team’s points. Kennedy tallied 12 total goals (including a career-high seven against Albany) and three assists over the two games, while Rafferty added seven goals herself.
Yet, despite a scoring margin of +10, Stony Brook’s wins did not come easily.
On Friday, both Stony Brook and Albany came into the game undefeated in America East conference play. With four ties and multiple lead changes, the first 30 minutes were a back-and-forth affair.
“It was chippy … and it was slow-paced — that’s the way they wanted to play,” head coach Joe Spallina said. Albany’s methodical playstyle stopped Stony Brook’s offense from hitting its stride at first, but the Seawolves took a 5-1 run into halftime and didn’t look back.
The Great Danes continued to be hyper-aggressive defensively, but it was a big factor in their downfall. Albany picked up five yellow cards in the second half, allowing Stony Brook to play at their own pace.
The Seawolves dominated in the second half, converting 58% of their shots on goal and outscoring Albany 7-2.
“People like to think they have a shot at us in our conference, but we always talk about continuing the streak of America East Championships, and I think we took a great step towards that tonight,” Spallina summarized after the game. Stony Brook has now won 30 straight conference games dating back to 2015.
On Sunday, fans of both teams packed Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium, ready for a classic top-20 showdown. The game did not disappoint.
Sophomore attacker Bridget Considine scored in the game’s opening 30 seconds off an assist from senior attacker Sara Moeller, who set up the next three goals as Stony Brook took an early 4-0 lead. Less than 10 minutes into the game, Kennedy scored her 50th goal of the year, making the score 6-1.
But the USC Women of Troy went on a 5-0 run into halftime and scored first in the second half to lead 7-6.
Spallina knew he had to re-energize his team. “We talked about how lacrosse is a game of runs … and we talked about how to be efficient,” Spallina said of his halftime message. “If they score, we had to be able to answer back.”
Senior attacker Nicole Barretta’s goal tied the game at 7, giving USC that answer. Ally Kennedy’s free-position score put a period on the statement, giving Stony Brook a lead that it would not relinquish.
“We knew this would be a big test for us … [and] we gutted it out today,” Spallina said postgame. “This was an important win and I’m so happy for them.”
Kennedy, whose five goals on the day were a game-high and the 11th time she has scored at least a hat trick this season, credits her teammates for her consistency.
“Our intensity in practice is on a whole ‘nother level every day and I know that my teammates push me to be better so I can make the plays I do out there,” Kennedy said while her team celebrated.
Also scoring for the Seawolves were junior attacker Taryn Ohlmiller and sophomore midfielder Rayna Sabella with one goal each and Rafferty with three.
Ohlmiller, who added three assists to her goal, was in good spirits after playing for the first time after being injured on March 23 against the University of Florida. “We wanted to save it until now,” Ohlmiller said. “It felt really great to be back on the field with the team.”
Stony Brook played tremendously on defense as well, holding USC below its scoring average and forcing 12 turnovers on the day. Senior midfielder Mackenzie Burns led the team with five caused turnovers and senior goalie Anna Tesoriero had 11 saves against USC’s top 30 ranked scoring offense.
The Seawolves will honor their nine seniors as they host Binghamton on Friday, April 19 in their final regular season home game.