For Stony Brook women's lacrosse coach Joe Spallina, it's always about winning. But it's also about being realistic, and Spallina knew No. 1 Maryland has an explosive offense.
So Spallina slowed the game down and held the Terrapins to a season-low eight goals. But Stony Brook couldn't match that Sunday at LaValle Stadium and had to settle for a nice try in an 8-3 loss.
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"They have all the bells and whistles, we're nuts and bolts," Spallina said. "I think we're a top 10 team in the country. I think we can play with anyone. They're the clear-cut No. 1 team in the country. We gave them all they can handle, but I didn't get into this for moral victories, and this one stings."
No. 16 Stony Brook (5-2) previously had lost only to then-No. 3 Florida; no other opponent had come close. But Maryland (9-0) is among the elite teams in the sport. Still, Stony Brook trailed 4-3 at the half, with Maryland's Katie Schwarzmann scoring all three of her goals, one on a free-position shot. Michelle Rubino, Claire Petersen and Janine Hillier had scored for Stony Brook.
Maryland's Taylor Cummings scored on an assist by Alex Aust about six minutes into the second half for a 5-3 lead and Stony Brook basically went to a catch-and-cradle offense, passing the ball and trying to find an opening. "Our kids played our game plan as good as you could play," Spallina said. "It's 5-3 with [less than five minutes] to go in the game."
Stony Brook had some chances but couldn't convert, and Maryland extended its lead when Aust scored a free-position shot with 4:43 left, Brooke Griffin tallied and Aust padded the lead with 2:27 left.
Maryland outshot Stony Brook 18-8, but Spallina lamented the Terrapins' advantage in converting three of six free-position shots to Stony Brook's none. Petersen, who set an NCAA single-game record with 11 assists last week, was closely marked by Maryland sophomore Jenna Agostino of Centereach. Demmianne Cook, Stony Brook's leading scorer with 29 goals, didn't even get off a shot.
Still, the Seawolves saw positives. "I think we kept great composure throughout the game and there were just a few plays that we could have capitalized on," Petersen said. "We went out for 60 minutes and we battled and we showed that we can play with the No. 1 team in the country."