For the Stony Brook women’s lacrosse team, it was a matter of where and when. For Hofstra, it was if and how. And both received answers they were looking for.
Both Stony Brook and Hofstra saw their names in the bracket for the NCAA women’s lacrosse tournament announced Sunday evening. The 29-team tournament will begin Friday.
Stony Brook, the No. 8 seed, is playing in its eighth straight NCAA Tournament and had an automatic bid after winning the America East championship. But nothing was a given for Hofstra. The Pride lost to James Madison, 14-7, in the Colonial Athletic Association final.
Because of a challenging schedule and quality wins, Hofstra coach Shannon Smith liked the Pride’s chances of making the tournament despite a 6-6 record.
"I thought that with our body of work and the teams we did beat and their competitive schedule and how well they were playing, I thought that we had a really good body of work to be able to make the NCAA Tournament," Smith said. "But obviously, it was up to the committee to where we would lay out, and it was really exciting to see our name come across that board."
Hofstra, playing in its third NCAA Tournament in program history and first since 2007, will play Loyola (11-2) in Syracuse in the opening round at 3 p.m. Friday. The winner will play No. 3 Syracuse on Sunday. Alyssa Parrella has scored 42 goals for Hofstra.
Stony Brook (14-2) will host Towson (9-8) at noon on Friday at LaValle Stadium. If the Seawolves win, they will host the Drexel-Rutgers winner in the second round Sunday.
The Seawolves are thrilled about the potential of playing two games on campus.
"I love playing at home. It’s my favorite place to play," said Ally Kennedy, who returned for a graduate season after last season was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. "And I think we’re all excited for that opportunity. Home games are what we want at the end of May."
Kennedy leads Stony Brook with 64 goals. She and Taryn Ohlmiller, who has 41 goals and 43 assists, form one of the best scoring duos in the country.
The Seawolves likely will have a matchup with top-seeded North Carolina if they win their opening two games. The Tar Heels defeated Stony Brook, 14-7, in the first game of the season and are 18-0. They are led by seniors Jamie Ortega, a Centereach High School graduate who has 73 goals and 23 assists, and Katie Hoeg, a Mattituck graduate who has 32 goals and 61 assists.
Stony Brook coach Joe Spallina said he isn’t allowing his players to think about a Sunday matchup, let alone a potential meeting with North Carolina with a Final Four on the line. But should the teams meet, the Seawolves plan to be ready.
"We’re not scared of anyone, honestly," Spallina said. "We signed to play North Carolina on two days’ notice and it was 9-7 at the half. We’re not worried about anything. We’re all about Towson, that’s it."
Stony Brook defeated Towson, 10-8, on March 7.
"They are a tough team," Spallina said. "I think they are a team that was off to a really good start when we played them. We are a different team now. Ironically, I went back and watched portions of that game and we are very different."
Although the Seawolves have made eight straight NCAA Tournament appearances, they are still chasing their first trip to a Final Four. The championship game will be played May 30 at Johnny Unitas Stadium in Towson, Maryland.
"There’s no cupcakes in the NCAA Tournament," Spallina said. "So you’ve got to be able to absorb a punch and throw one back and not let a team go on a run because that run may be too much for you. So we’re excited."