Although this wasn’t another run-of-the-mill game against an overmatched America East team, the Stony Brook women’s lacrosse team still asserted its standing as one of the nation’s best.
The fifth-seeded Seawolves beat Penn, 18-5, in an NCAA Tournament second-round game on Sunday at LaValle Stadium to advance to Saturday’s quarterfinal at fourth-seeded Boston College.
Courtney Murphy had six goals and three assists before being pulled with 12 minutes remaining. Stony Brook (20-0), the nation’s lone undefeated team, took a 12-2 lead with 3:20 left in the half, starting the running clock.
Again, this wasn’t just another regular-season game. It was in the NCAA Tournament.
“Today was the byproduct of us having the best week of practice we’ve had all year,” coach Joe Spallina said. “I’ve said this to a couple people, and I really truly believe it: I think that the way we played last Sunday, on top of blatant disrespect we received from the [selection] committee, was a way of us suffering a loss without losing a game, which allowed us to completely refocus ourselves.”
After receiving the No. 5 seed despite ranking No. 1 in the national media polls for 11 straight weeks, Stony Brook started quickly. Murphy scored three times in an opening 7-0 spurt, then had a goal and two assists in a 5-0 run as the Seawolves closed the half with a 13-2 lead.
Early in the second half, Murphy caused a turnover while riding a player attempting to clear, and that extra possession resulted in another goal.
“We know what’s on the line with these games, and one play can really make a difference,” Murphy said. “It being my fifth year, I just want to make as much of an impact as I can.”
Kylie Ohlmiller scored the game’s first goal on a free position, then made it 9-2 off a Murphy assist with 10:43 left in the half. Despite the impressive showing, Ohlmiller said the offense can improve.
“I think there’s always stepping stones you can build on our offense each week,” she said. “I think we have seen 20 different defenses, so that goes into what we see each time. We take different things from each, and we’re looking forward to this week and getting better from it.”
Her younger sister, Taryn, fell awkwardly with 16:26 left in the half and was removed from the game. She did not return. Spallina said it was a “lower-body injury” and that he’ll know more Monday.
She’s a key cog, and her presence against Boston College could be a deciding factor. Either way, Spallina is confident. He ended Sunday’s news conference not with a statement but with an assurance.
“If you’re going to write our story, it would not be that Stony Brook’s going to be home the whole playoffs,” he said. “There’s going to be some kind of adversity.
“We’re going to go to B.C., but we’ll be back here in two weeks, sitting in the same seats, happy again.”