The 2018 edition of Stony Brook women’s lacrosse set a rather high bar with the best season in the program’s history, complete with a No. 1 ranking for 11 straight weeks and 20 straight wins to start the season before an overtime loss in the NCAA quarterfinals.
The 2019 edition is still trying to find its way after losing offensive superstars Kylie Ohlmiller and Courtney Murphy.
Florida, ranked 16th, 17th and 20th depending on the poll, came into well-chilled LaValle Stadium Saturday and edged Stony Brook, 11-10, behind five goals from Smithtown’s Shannon Kavanagh.
The Seawolves, ranked 17th in one poll and 19th in the other two, fell to 4-4 after going 40-3 across 2017 and 2018. So coach Joe Spallina wasn’t putting a happy spin on things after the tight loss.
“I feel good about our growth,” Spallina said. “But I’m not a moral victory guy. I want to make that clear. I don’t believe that losing is good. Losing is good for people that lose. I’m not used to it and they’re not used to it. So there is a level of frustration involved as well…I didn’t come out here to play close with a national power.”
It was tied at 8 when Grace Haus fed the ball inside to Kavanagh. The sophomore attack beat Anna Tesoriero from about 5 yards to give the 4-6 Gators the lead with 13 minutes remaining. Nicole Barretta had a chance to tie it from in front around 3:30 later, but Haley Hicklen stopped her shot.
“I think probably one of the biggest things was their goalie had 15 saves and ours had four,” Spallina said. “…I thought their goalie stole the game.”
Madi Hall passed to Kavanagh at the doorstep to make it a 10-8 lead with 7:43 to go.
“Stony Brook is a great team,” said Kavanagh, one of Florida’s 10 imports from Long Island. “…They fight hard for every ball. It’s great to come here to play them.”
Taryn Ohlmiller, Kylie’s sister, cut it to 10-9 with her second of the game. But Sydney Pirreca, a Gators midfielder from Mount Sinai, scored on a free-position shot with 3:25 remaining. Keri McCarthy converted her second with 1:22 on the clock to set the final margin.
“We’re just trying to find our identity right now,” Ohlmiller said.
The Seawolves led just once. Siobhan Rafferty, with her first of two, made it 4-3 with 5:10 left in the first half. But Haus tied it 48 seconds later.
“You don’t play for a team; you play for a program,” Spallina said. “So I think the success of previous years is something that they should feel part of. A lot of them were on the team. So you’re going to have that hanging over [them]…
“Our kids, they get an opportunity to play against the best teams. I thought for a large portion we outplayed Florida. But you’ve got to find a way of not allowing their goalie to have 15 saves.”