TODAY'S PAPER

SBU women eye NCAA lacrosse title

Taryn Ohlmiller, left, and her sister, Kylie after a goal in the 13-12 quaterfinal loss to Maryland on May 20, 2017. / Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The stage is set for the Stony Brook women’s lacrosse team to do something previously unimaginable.

With the NCAA Women’s Final Four scheduled for Memorial Day weekend at LaValle Stadium, Stony Brook has the opportunity to win the national championship at home . . . and coach Joe Spallina knows he has the pieces to do it.

“I feel like this team checks all the boxes,” he said. “Obviously a lot has to go right to win a national title, let alone a Final Four. We just want to be 1-0. That’s what I always tell the girls.”

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The Seawolves open Friday night at Southern Cal, and play Denver Feb. 25 in their first home game. They play six NCAA Tournament teams from last season and open America East play March 24 at UMass Lowell.

Stony Brook returns three 100-point scorers, the first team in NCAA history to do so. Courtney Murphy, who set the Division I record with 100 goals in 2016, returns from an ACL injury as a redshirt senior, joining Tewaaraton favorite Kylie Ohlmiller and her younger sister, Taryn, as a most formidable offensive trio.

Spallina calls them the #LI3 (as in the L.I.E.), and the Seawolves could take the express route to their sixth straight America East championship. They are the unanimous preseason favorite.

The Seawolves open as the No. 2-ranked team nationally, after losing to eventual national champion Maryland, 13-12, in the NCAA quarterfinals last season. Now, they’re focused on moving forward.

“It’s a new year, so this 2018 team hasn’t done anything yet,” said Kylie Ohlmiller, who set the Division I single-season points record last season with 164. “Last year was great, but it was a different team.”

Spallina’s defense ranked No. 1 nationally four of the last five years (it was No. 2 in 2016). The offense ranked third last season, averaging 16.09 goals per game. Redshirt senior Brooke Gubitosi said both units challenge each other.

“It’s definitely cool to be on a team where both sides of the ball are so competitive,” said the first-team All-American and America East Defensive Player of the Year. “They make us better and we make them better.”

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Graduation left some holes to fill, but Spallina said he has the depth to overcome that. Tiffany Zullo and Emma Schait could see expanded roles, and freshmen Siobhan Rafferty, Rayna Sabella and Sarah Pulis will be given opportunities in the midfield.

Carolyn Carrera and Mackenzie Burns could contribute on defense, keeping the pressure off star goalkeeper Anna Tesoriero. Ally Kennedy and Samantha DiSalvo will help control the midfield, and Keri McCarthy is the top draw specialist.

This all adds up to a potentially historic season. The Seawolves don’t see it any other way.

“That’s one of the things we talk about every day; we want to do this for our seniors,” Taryn Ohlmiller said. “We want to do this as a team together. This is our time.”

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