Sophomore attacker Kaitlyn Hart in a game against USC on Feb. 23. Hart scored two goals on March 5 in a game against UMBC. SARA RUBERG/THE STATESMAN

After their tough loss to the No. 2-ranked Syracuse Orange, the Stony Brook women’s lacrosse team headed south to Baltimore for its first America East game since 2019. In their conference opener, the Seawolves defeated the UMBC Retrievers 15-8, improving to a staggering 43 straight wins against America East opponents.

The game was in the Seawolves’ hands from the beginning, punching UMBC in the mouth with six straight goals in only three minutes. Graduate attacker Taryn Ohlmiller found the net twice in 42 seconds en route to a team-high five goals on the day. Graduate midfielder Ally Kennedy also added onto the scoring with a hat trick.

The pair of sophomore attacker Kailyn Hart and freshman midfielder Jaden Hampel each contributed two goals respectively, and senior midfielder Siobhan Rafferty and freshman midfielder Ellie Masera each added one goal as well. The game also marked the first career start for freshman goalkeeper Hayley Hunt, who notched six saves.

At halftime, the Seawolves held a dominating 9-1 lead and continued to pour it on in the beginning of the second half. Still, UMBC was able to outscore Stony Brook after the break due to a late run.

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While Stony Brook triggered the running clock and led by as much as 14-3 at one point, this is a team that prides itself on finishing as strong as they start. UMBC scored five of the last six goals, including two in the final minute of competition against the freshman Hunt. 

Stony Brook remained in Maryland to face the No. 16-ranked Towson Tigers on Sunday, March 7. A 10-8 victory over another ranked opponent was much-needed for a Seawolves team looking to reestablish their spot among the best in the game. It was the Tigers’ first loss of the season.

With the game tied midway through the first half after graduate midfielder Ally Kennedy and senior midfielder Siobhan Rafferty exchanged goals with Towson, Stony Brook got a major boost from the team’s rising stars. Sophomore attacker Kailyn Hart and freshman midfielder Jaden Hampel combined to score the next four goals for the Seawolves to help build a 6-2 lead going into the half.

However, Towson came out fired up and attempted to stage a comeback by scoring three straight goals on the Seawolves. The momentum, however, swung back to Stony Brook’s side after another goal from Rafferty, which was assisted by senior attacker Jesse Arline on a man-up opportunity.

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After a quick Towson goal, graduate midfielder Kaeli Huff scored the first goal of a game-clinching three-goal run from her, Hampel and Kennedy.

“It was a tough, gritty road win,” head coach Joe Spallina said in a postgame press release. “I absolutely love the way we played defense today. Efforts like today go a very long way in preparing us for playoff time. Towson is an excellent team that makes you earn everything. Our team is getting better every time out and starting to stack wins.”

Leading the team in goals with her second career hat trick, Hampel is continuing to make an early case for a national All-Rookie team berth and potentially even more. With 10 goals in her five starts, she is proving early in the season, and her career, that she will be a fixture of Stony Brook lacrosse for the next few years. 

Alongside her is Hart, last season’s breakout player and reigning member of the national All-Rookie team. Hart reminded everyone today of her ability to score goals when called upon. When teams are gameplanning for players like Kennedy, Rafferty and Ohlmiller, having other players who can step up and carry the scoring load is the difference between good teams and great ones. 

With the weekend in Maryland behind them, the Seawolves will come home to face the UMass Lowell River Hawks on Sunday, March 14. The contest begins a three-game homestand that will see rivals Albany and Hofstra enter Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium. 

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There is plenty of season left, and a good set of wins over this weekend may just be what this team needs to get back to where they want to be.

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