Graduate attacker Taryn Ohlmiller in a game against USC Trojans on Feb. 23. Ohlmiller scored a career-high six goals. SARA RUBERG/THE STATESMAN

A must-win game quickly turned into a blowout as the No. 5-ranked Stony Brook women’s lacrosse team defeated the No. 15-ranked USC Trojans by a final score of 15-3 on Tuesday, Feb. 23. Bolstered by a career day from graduate attacker Taryn Ohlmiller, the Seawolves looked to be in midseason form on just a few days’ rest before their third game of the season. 

“For us, this was really important,” head coach Joe Spallina said in a postgame press conference. “That’s a very good team on the other side [in the Trojans] and I thought we needed to step up and get a little bit back to our identity.”

It was all Seawolves from the opening draw, as Stony Brook went on a four-goal tear before the Trojans could get their offense together. But after two USC goals, the Seawolves offense kicked it into high gear, scoring six straight going into the half to up the score to 10-2.

Not done yet, the Seawolves came out of the halftime break and proceeded to score another four straight goals before the Trojans finally found the net for the final time with 18 minutes remaining. 

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From there, Stony Brook shut out USC while scoring one last time to seal the deal for the Seawolves. The Seawolves were able to run up the score on a man-to-man scheme despite preparing for the Trojans’ traditionally zone defense, earning a big win as a top five team in the nation.

“That’s something we work on in practice a lot,” Ohlmiller said of the Trojans’ defensive change. “We never just play against one specific defense in practice. We try and be ready for anything, because you never know what a team is going to come out in come gametime. So I think that it’s really good that we are prepared for different things.”

In addition to Ohlmiller, graduate midfielder Ally Kennedy showed up big with a hat trick, five ground balls and eight draw controls to help the Seawolves win the possession battle throughout the game. 

However, the other major storyline of the day was Kaeli Huff, a current Stony Brook graduate midfielder and a former USC Trojan. Huff, who played against her sister Kelsey Huff for the very first time in her life, scored two goals against the girls she trained and worked with over the last four years.

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“Well it’s definitely funny,” Huff said about playing against her sister. “The two of us were talking the whole time up to this game and saying how we never have played against each other, which is crazy. We’ve been on the same side for 22 years so it was definitely different. But we were both excited, we’ve been battling with each other since we were walking basically so not much is different.”

Freshman midfielder Jaden Hampel added another two goals after her Sunday hat trick, while sophomore attacker Kailyn Hart and senior midfielder Siobhan Rafferty also added a goal a piece. 

“This was a big time performance from our team,” Spallina said of his players’ efforts. “I told them earlier and yesterday that I felt like we needed to get back to who we were, and that was playing really good defense and being efficient on offense.”

The Seawolves will need to keep bringing their A-game as they now travel to Syracuse to play the No. 2 Orange in the Carrier Dome on Saturday at 10 a.m. The Seawolves won their previous matchup with Syracuse a year ago in stunning fashion, but as Spallina noted, Syracuse is ranked second for a reason.

“Watching them play, they should be the number two team in the country,” Spallina said. “What an opportunity for our team right now. We are 2-1, just beat a ranked team at home, and now we have a chance to go up to the Carrier Dome, one of the best places to play lacrosse.”

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