After 30 minutes of lacrosse action, Stony Brook emerged from the tunnel ready to throw haymakers. Although the Seawolves had a three-goal halftime lead, they knew the second half needed to be better. And their punches connected early and often.
The Seawolves scored three goals in the opening four minutes of the second half en route to a 14-8 victory over Towson in the opening round of the NCAA women’s lacrosse tournament Friday afternoon at LaValle Stadium.
"We knew we wanted to throw that first punch coming out of halftime," Taryn Ohlmiller said. "And we did that."
Ohlmiller was involved in nearly every devastating punch for Stony Brook. She finished with four goals and three assists, and her seven points tied for the second-most in an NCAA Tournament game in program history.
"It’s just a tribute to my team," Ohlmiller said. "We were all working together today."
The eighth-seeded Seawolves (15-2) will host Rutgers — which defeated Drexel, 16-13 — in the second round at noon Sunday at LaValle Stadium.
Stony Brook had a 6-0 run spanning the two halves and held Towson (9-9) scoreless for 19:26.
The Seawolves expanded their lead to 13-4 with 14:46 left in the second half.
"If you want to win playoff games, it starts with the defense and the goalie," coach Joe Spallina said. "I feel really good about our offense’s ability to score, but it came down to being able to lock it down on the defensive side."
Ally Kennedy added three goals and two assists and Kaeli Huff had three goals for the Seawolves.
Before the game, the NCAA announced its five finalists for the Tewaaraton Award, given to the nation’s most outstanding men’s and women’s lacrosse player. Kennedy, from North Babylon, was one of 25 nominees for the award, but she wasn’t named one of the five finalists. She has 67 goals and eight assists in 17 games this season.
Spallina, who is never one to shy away from standing up for his team and players, was critical of the decision to announce the finalists the morning of the NCAA Tournament. He called the timing "tremendously irresponsible."
"The biggest thing to me is just having zero regard of the emotion of the student-athletes," Spallina said. "There’s no reason why this could not have gotten released Monday morning.
"That award is better than that and Ally was upset," Spallina added. "And listen, I treat my players like I treat my family. You mess with my kids, you’re messing with me. And it’s on."
But the victory brings Stony Brook one game closer to its goal of playing in the Final Four for the first time in program history. The Seawolves, who have made the last eight NCAA Tournaments, made sure to finish the game with a strong second half.
"We needed to come out of the half swinging," midfielder Rayna Sabella said. "We couldn’t have any letups on defense and we definitely wanted to keep the momentum on offense. We came out on offense and scored goals right away and we didn’t let them back in the game, and by that time, it was like, ‘What can they do now?’ "