Anything less than a national championship for the Stony Brook women’s lacrosse team would make 2016 a disappointment.
The Seawolves lost to Princeton in the second round of the NCAA Tournament last May after ranking as high as No. 4 in the country on the Inside Lacrosse poll. After finishing 18-2, expectations are even higher. “We want to be undefeated this season,” Kylie Ohlmiller said. “We want to get after every team that comes our way.”
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Ohlmiller is a force on offense. As a freshman last season she was a finalist for the Tewaaraton award, the lacrosse equivalent of the Heisman Trophy, after scoring 42 goals and 44 assists.
Coach Joe Spallina said he’s expecting improvement and more consistency from Ohlmiller. “She’s gotten faster. She’s gotten stronger,” he said. “Her stick has gotten better.”
Alongside Ohlmiller is Courtney Murphy, who ranked third nationally with 71 goals. Murphy credited Ohlmiller for the scoring spike. “She’s not afraid to throw me the ball,” Murphy said. “I think we could both play with our eyes closed and still pass to each other.”
Pushing the tempo will be a trio of midfielders led by Dorrien Van Dyke. She was involved heavily last season with 39 goals, 20 assists, 23 ground balls, 19 caused turnovers and a team-high 50 draw controls. Other midfielders to watch are Kristin Yevoli and Samantha DiSalvo, who are on the cusp of breakout seasons, Spallina said.
Yevoli, a two-way midfielder, has been “virtually unguardable” in the fall and preseason, according to Spallina. DiSalvo is an integral part of the clearing game, and Spallina said she never misses a run on defense.
Defense is the Seawolves’ specialty. They led the nation in scoring defense each of the past three seasons, all of which culminated in America East championships and NCAA berths.
Maegan Meritz and Alyssa Fleming anchor the unit. Meritz led the team with 38 ground balls while causing 16 turnovers. Fleming tied for the team lead with 21 caused turnovers and had 27 ground balls. Jessica Volpe and Brooke Gubitosi will contribute as well.
Freshman Anna Tesoriero is expected to be the starting goalkeeper, and Spallina said he has liked what he’s seen in the preseason. With a defense that will alleviate the pressure on her, Tesoriero is in position to succeed.
The Seawolves were unanimous favorites to win the America East again in a preseason poll of its coaches, the conference office announced. But this season is all about winning a national title. “This is where we’re meant to be,” Murphy said. “It’s not a fluke.”
Added Meritz: “Slowly, every single year, we’ve gotten better and better. I think this is the year.”