Albany thought hitting the pause button and slowing down the game might be the way to prevent the Stony Brook women's lacrosse team from winning its second straight America East Conference title. The Great Danes succeeded only in creating the lowest-scoring championship game in conference history as the Seawolves broke away for a 7-1 win, earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Stony Brook (16-3) will play Towson (11-7) in a first-round game Friday in Syracuse.
"It's always difficult when a team stalls," said Stony Brook goalie Frankie Caridi, who was named the most outstanding player in the championship series. "We like to get after it. It throws us a different look, but we were ready for it and were expecting it. Anything anyone throws at us, we're ready."
Said Albany coach John Battaglino, "We wanted to take quality shots. My team is not really built finesse-wise. We have to create extra space for the players to pass the ball in, get the ball and get shots off. You do that by taking your time and trying for a layup."
Stony Brook -- which scored five goals in a span of 7:19 in the second half to break open a 2-1 game -- stayed patient while the Great Danes took great pains in looking for shots. When Albany did fire on goal, Caridi was practically perfect. Sarah Martin's goal off a free-position shot with 22:24 left in the first half was all Albany (14-3) could push past Caridi, who made six saves.
Albany took only eight shots. "We need to shoot better than that," Battaglino said. "Frankie's a great goalie. You're not going to get second chances."
Dorrien Van Dyke's unassisted goal tied it with 16:25 left in the first half. Forty-four seconds into the second half, Amber Kupres scored on an assist by Alyssa Cardillo, and SBU finally had the lead at 2-1.
"It gave us a huge boost of confidence and it kind of started the ball rolling," Kupres said.
Not quite yet. The next goal did not come until Michelle Rubino scored with 9:48 left. That began a flurry of goals as Courtney Murphy, Emily Mercier, Van Dyke and Murphy again scored to make it 7-1. Murphy's second goal was her 56th.
"This was supposed to be a rebuilding year, I've been told by a lot of people," coach Joe Spallina said. "This has not been a rebuilding year. This has been a reloaded year. We were able to get a repeat year in the same kind of convincing fashion as we did last year. This program is strong. It's built to last."