No matter how many times Albany has inflicted painful losses on Stony Brook's teams in big games, the athletic department usually has been able to depend on its women's lacrosse team to defeat the Great Danes.
"I think [Albany] definitely hangs over every single team and I think it's great that we're the team that's able to beat them,'' senior Michelle Rubino said.
Behind five goals by senior Amber Kupres, the Seawolves toppled visiting Albany, 11-8, on Sunday to win their third straight America East title and automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Stony Brook, the national No. 6 seed, has a bye in the first round and will host the Princeton-Fairfield winner at noon Sunday.
All three conference titles have come against Albany. Stony Brook (18-1) has defeated the Great Danes (14-4) six straight times since losing to them in the 2012 championship.
"I think we probably have the effect on them that their other teams may have on some of our other teams,'' coach Joe Spallina said. "We feel very comfortable matching up against them . . . I think we're in their head in women's lacrosse . . . They're almost waiting for the roof to cave in before it starts.''
Said Kupres, "Obviously, Albany's a huge rivalry in every sport we play, but Coach has us focus only on ourselves and play our games. If that means we have to make up for another team [that lost to Albany], that's OK.''
The Great Danes tried to play a deliberate style at the beginning, tossing the ball around for several minutes before Sarah Martin gave Albany a 1-0 lead. But Stony Brook's Taylor Ranftle tied it at 19:09 on a free position shot, Kupres scored three straight goals, Kylie Ohlmiller added another and the Seawolves had a 5-1 lead with 12:38 left.
Ohlmiller had five assists and was named the tournament's most outstanding player. Ranftle had two goals and three assists and Courtney Murphy had three goals to give her 70 for the season. Murphy's goal off an assist from Ohlmiller gave Stony Brook a 9-2 lead with 23:56 left in regulation.
"I thought we played a complete game,'' Spallina said. "The positive thing for me, out of the 11 goals we scored, 10 of them were assisted. That just shows me our kids are locked in. We're playing team lacrosse.''
And now it's on to the NCAAs, where Stony Brook made it to the second round in each of the previous two seasons. "We've played great teams so far and we've beaten great teams,'' Rubino said. "I think we're ready for anyone at this point.''