With 2.5 seconds left and the score tied, all eyes at LaValle Stadium were focused on Kasey Mitchell.
The freshman from Port Jefferson Station had scored only eight times all season, but she lined up for the biggest free-position attempt of her career with unwavering confidence.
“I was just praying that it was going to go in,” she said. “It’s what we do every day in practice, so it came naturally.”
After the whistle was blown, for 2.5 seconds, LaValle was nearly silent. Then the stadium erupted after Mitchell ducked under a defender and beat Albany goalie Courtney Henderson as time expired, giving Stony Brook a 10-9 win Sunday afternoon and its fourth consecutive America East Conference title.
“A lot of kids would crumble in that situation,” coach Joe Spallina said. “When you talk about Kasey — she won state championships at the high school level, she’s done other things — so when you take those things into consideration, it doesn’t completely shock you that she would be able to handle that situation.”
Stony Brook (16-3) will play at Boston College on Friday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The winner will visit No. 4 Syracuse on Sunday.
Although he was pleased with the opportunity to be included in the tournament, Spallina was surprised that his team did not have a chance to host a first-round game.
“I thought we got pushed down a little bit lower than we should have been,” he said.
Mitchell’s goal put the exclamation point on a remarkable comeback by the Seawolves, who trailed 9-8 with 1:54 remaining. That’s when Shoreham’s Alyssa Fleming knocked down a pass and secured possession, allowing Spallina to call timeout and set his offense.
Shirley’s Courtney Murphy tied it 21 seconds later off a quick feed from Rocky Point’s Alyssa Guido behind the net. Murphy had four goals, upping her nation-leading total to 95.
Northport’s Dorrien Van Dyke, who also scored four goals, was crucial in keeping Stony Brook in the game. Albany swarmed Murphy at times, leaving lanes for Van Dyke, who tied her career high for goals in a season with 52.
Three of her goals were of the game-tying variety in the first half. Her fourth gave the Seawolves an 8-6 lead.
“This was our second goal to accomplish,” Van Dyke said. “Our first one was winning the overall league. Now we’re on to our third goal, which is to win in the first round of the NCAAs.”