When the Stony Brook women’s lacrosse team opens its season Saturday at Towson, there will be a new player on the field: a 90-second possession clock.
It could work in Stony Brook’s favor. The Seawolves feature a speedy, high-possession offense capable of scoring in a matter of seconds. A solid defensive unit could prove valuable in forcing teams to rush possessions.
“We’re not changing anything about our defense,” said senior Jessica Volpe of Hauppauge. “I think offenses are going to have to push it more against us. We’ll be causing more turnovers than we would without a clock.”
Seawolves coach Joe Spallina said opponents have stalled in recent years, and forcing teams to act could create more excitement.
“I think it makes the game more viewer-friendly; it allows people to appreciate the game more,” he said. “The stalling was starting earlier and earlier. It’s going to manufacture more possessions, and I think there’s a lot of benefit to that.”
Spallina, who operates with a shot clock as coach of the New York Lizards of Major League Lacrosse, leads a team with some of the best returning talent in the country, as shown by program-best preseason ranks of No. 5 in the Inside Lacrosse poll and No. 6 in the IWLCA poll.
Led by Shirley’s Courtney Murphy, who had a Division I-record 100 goals last season and is 58 away from the all-time mark, Stony Brook returns 96.8 percent of its scoring and 10 starters.
Midfielders Kylie Ohlmiller (Islip), Dorrien Van Dyke (Northport), Kristin Yevoli (Massapequa) and Sam DiSalvo (Lynbrook) and attack Alyssa Guido (Rocky Point) are athletic scorers. Two key freshmen, midfielder Ally Kennedy (North Babylon) and attack Taryn Ohlmiller (Islip), are expected to add to an offense that averaged 13.43 goals per game last season, seventh in the country.
But the Seawolves’ strength could be a defense that allowed 6.1 goals per game, second in the nation.
“Our defense is amazing in itself, so I think that adding a 90-second shot clock is going to make other teams force things,” Kylie Ohlmiller said.
Volpe, Brooke Gubitosi (East Northport) and goalie Anna Tesoriero (Huntington) anchor a defense anxious to cause turnovers and create possessions. “It’ll be easier for our defense to play more aggressively and cause a lot more turnovers,” Murphy said. “We’ll have so many more fast breaks.”
The Seawolves went 17-4 last season but lost to Syracuse, 7-6, in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
A schedule packed with five tournament teams from last season — Towson, Northwestern, Florida, USC and Johns Hopkins — will test the Seawolves, but Spallina expects to make program history.
“We’re equipped to win a national championship,” he said. “All the pieces are there.”