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Stony Brook’s upset bid falls short against top seed Maryland

Stony Brook players salute their fans after their

Stony Brook players salute their fans after their 13-12 loss to Maryland in an NCAA Division I women's lacrosse quarterfinal on Saturday, May 20, 2017. Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Kylie Ohlmiller had just spent parts of the previous 10 minutes staring at the scoreboard — Maryland 13, Stony Brook 12 — and she still didn’t think it read correctly.

“People who watched this game realize who the better team was. That’s us, obviously,” the Stony Brook junior said, albeit with a laugh that acknowledged the counter-reality. “It just didn’t go our way in the end.”

For nearly 57 minutes of Saturday’s NCAA Division I women’s quarterfinal game, it looked like the eighth-seeded Seawolves could do the unthinkable and — in their first appearance this deep in the national tournament — beat the top team in the country, a program that had won 46 of its previous 47 games, and hadn’t lost on its home turf in five years.

Ohlmiller, the Islip native who is a finalist for the Tewaaraton Award, given to the nation’s best player, dodged, dashed and distributed her way to three goals and four assists, while guarded primarily by Nadine Hadnagy (Farmingdale), and she added the NCAA single-season assists record (86) to her single-season points title (which stands at 164) in the process.

Ohlmiller’s last helper with 14:57 left in the second half, to her younger sister, Taryn, gave Stony Brook an 11-7 lead. Maryland (21-0) hadn’t faced a four-goal deficit since it lost to North Carolina in last year’s national title game. But after a timeout, the Terps quickly showed their championship mettle with two goals in 41 seconds.

From there, Maryland, which advanced to its ninth straight final four, notched four of the game’s final five scores, powered by winning seven of the last nine draw controls, and 19 to 7 overall. All Ohlmiller could do was watch when Maryland’s Caroline Steele tied the game at 12 with 3:18 left and Taylor Hensh scored the eventual game-winner on an off-ball cut with 2:14 to go.

Taryn Ohlmiller had scored the Seawolves’ final goal that put them ahead 12-10 with 11:35 remaining.

“We never got the ball,” Stony Brook coach Joe Spallina said. “Anytime [Kylie] had it in her stick, she had a pretty good day. If we got the ball back, it was going to her.”

Stony Brook, which finishes with a 20-2 record, raced to 5-1 lead 13:45 into the game, during which goalie Anna Tesoriero (Huntington) made four of her 13 saves. Despite long stretches on defense, five yellow cards, a lopsided foul count of 58 to Maryland’s 15, and 11 free-position shots against them, Stony Brook managed to hold onto the lead using its zone effectively and shooting 46 percent, usually creating chances well within the 90-second shot clock.

Taryn Ohlmiller, a freshman, finished with three goals and senior Dorrien Van Dyke added two. Zoe Stukenberg had five points for Maryland, which plays either Penn State or Princeton in the national semifinals next weekend in Foxborough, Mass. The loss snapped a 15-game win streak for the Seawolves.

“We played our hearts out. We battled hard today,” Spallina said. “I said when the bracket came out that I never agreed with us being an eight seed. I think we probably walked that walk. We showed we’re an elite program. We’re not going away. This hurts now, but we’re built to last.”

As she tried to process what had just transpired on the field, Kylie Ohlmiller crouched on the turf, stared at the reality of the result, then stood alone along a chain-link fence before eventually consoling Stony Brook’s seven seniors, who helped build the program from a languishing America East team to national contender.

“It’s unfortunate, but people on the sidelines, and kids, are looking and saying, ‘Wow. Stony Brook is good. I want to go there. I want to be like them,’ ” Ohlmiller said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t get to our goal of getting to the final four, but that is always our goal: to expose this program for what it is and the great culture that we have here.”

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