Deep Stony Brook doesn't expect much drop-off in talent

Stony Brook's Michelle Rubino practices at LaValle Stadium

Stony Brook's Michelle Rubino practices at LaValle Stadium on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014. Photo Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

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How will the Stony Brook women's lacrosse team compensate for the loss of two of the program's greatest players? Develop more stars. The defending America East champion Seawolves (17-3) expect a return trip to the NCAA Tournament.

Senior goalie Franki Caridi, who led the nation in goals-against average (5.71) and save percentage (.530), said there is no time to lament the graduation of Claire Petersen and Demianne Cook, who combined for 227 goals and 120 assists in their two years at Stony Brook. "Of course they were a big part of what we were doing," said Caridi, who transferred with the duo from Division II Adelphi when coach Joe Spallina took over the Seawolves.

"With our coach, there really isn't a drop-off," Caridi said. "Obviously, I played with them since I started playing lacrosse in college, but we're getting used to not having them. Of course they're missed, but just like anything else, there are other people involved in everything that we do. We just have to step up in other positions to make it so there's not such a big impact of their loss."

The anticipated star in waiting is junior midfielder Michelle Rubino (34 goals) of Comsewogue, who already had been an impact player in her first two years but now is poised to be become the team's leader. She also had 57 draw controls.

Rubino said Petersen and Cook taught her "to be patient with the ball and when to go to the cage. I still have Demi here [as a volunteer assistant] to give me advice. "I feel maybe I can step up more as a leader. I don't see myself as the main star of the program. We all work together to make this program a better program." Fellow midfielders Amber Kupres (31) and Emily Mercier (28) also return

Spallina said, "My thing is, it's next man up," regarding the pipeline of players he has assembled. "It's really a system that is in place. This team will play at an extremely high level. Our goals and expectations are as high as ever. We have the potential to be a better team than we were in the past, we're a team that's a lot deeper."

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It begins with Rubino, Spallina said, "she's the straw that stirs the drink," but there's plenty of firepower in the offense. "I'm calling it right now. Our leading goal scorer will be [midfielder] Courtney Murphy," Spallina said. "She will score over 50 goals, she doesn't miss."

Spallina predicts that Mercier, another Adelphi transfer now in her final season, will tally 35 to 40 goals. Two freshmen, Kristin Yevoli and 6-1 Dorrien Van Dyke, are expected to play prominent rolls. Princeton graduate transfer Jenna Davis, playmaker Alyssa Guido and Alyssa Cardillo, who gained valuable experience filling in for Petersen when she was injured, add to the deep squad. Attacker Shannon Coleman is healthy after missing the second half of her freshman year with a foot injury.

Caridi, whom Spallina calls "the best goalie in the country," is looking to make a run in the NCAAs. "I think obviously repeating what we did last year," she said, "and of course, going further. Going further this year is what we all want."

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