The second round of the NCAA tournament had once proven an insurmountable hurdle for the Stony Brook women’s lacrosse team, with losses in two of the past three seasons to Syracuse.
So when Northwestern took a two-goal lead midway through the first half Sunday, it seemed as if the Round 2 woes might continue for the Seawolves.
They were pressing, forcing passes and shots that weren’t of the high-percentage variety they’d thrived on this season. Things changed in the second half, though, leading Stony Brook to a program-first.
Kylie Ohlmiller scored one goal and assisted two others during a 6-1 run over nearly 13 minutes in the second half, leading the eighth-seeded Seawolves to a 13-9 win over Northwestern (11-10).
Stony Brook (20-1) visits No. 1 Maryland at noon Saturday in the program’s first appearance in the NCAA quarterfinals.
“We felt a good amount of pressure in this game,” said coach Joe Spallina. “It was more of us taking that next step as a program, as a legitimate title contender.”
Ohlmiller, who saw a face-guard for most of the game, had two goals and four assists. Taryn Ohlmiller scored twice during the 6-1 spurt and had three goals and an assist.
While the Ohlmillers were integral to the outcome, it was a slew of unlikely contributors who put Stony Brook over the top after the Seawolves trailed 7-6 early in the second.
Keri McCarthy won nine draws against Babylon’s Shelby Fredericks, who entered the game third in the country in draws won per game (8.42). On March 5, when Stony Brook beat Northwestern, 13-5, McCarthy won one draw.
“I think I’ve just worked hard every day before practice,” McCarthy said. “It doesn’t really matter what I did the other day, it matters what I do today.”
Kristin Yevoli assisted Kylie Ohlmiller’s game-tying goal at the start of the game-changing run and filled the box score with a goal, an assist, two ground balls, two caused turnovers and two draw controls.
“I don’t want the season to end. It’s my senior year,” Yevoli said of her extra motivations. “This is a special group, and I knew it from the beginning.”
When Northwestern challenged in the second half, Stony Brook’s Brooke Gubitosi, Jessica Volpe and the defense put a screeching halt to their opponent’s comeback attempt. Gubitosi notched six ground balls and six caused turnovers, several of which led to scores from the offense.
“Having Brooke is like having the best free safety in the game,” Spallina said. “In order to do what she does, I think she shows her lacrosse IQ. She’s just such a ball hawk.”
Other contributors included Ally Kennedy (two goals), Samantha DiSalvo (two) and Alyssa Guido (goal, assist).
It was their play that helped overcome a first-half deficit and an aggressive Northwestern team.
“Early on in the game, I feel like we took a punch and gave two back,” Gubitosi said.