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No. 6 Stony Brook women’s lacrosse takes down Albany for America East championship and NCAA Tournament berth

Graduate midfielder Ally Kennedy in a game against Albany on May 8. She lead the team with five goals. ETHAN TAM/THE STATESMAN

It was a usual day for the Seawolves on Saturday, May 8 as the Stony Brook women’s lacrosse team defeated rival Albany Great Danes 16-9 at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium for the program’s 54th straight conference win and eighth straight America East championship. Off the solid win, Stony Brook can now turn its focus towards the NCAA Tournament and the ultimate goal of a national championship.

The night prior, Oklahoma softball saw its 65-game conference win streak in the Big 12 snapped by Oklahoma State, giving the Seawolves the longest active in-conference winning streak among all Division I sports.

“The record is great,” head coach Joe Spallina said in a postgame press conference. “It’s not just this year’s team. It ties the alumni with all the great players and great women who have worn the jersey here and helped put this program on the map. They’re all part of this.”

Then, Stony Brook got busy challenging Oklahoma’s all-time record by beating their own rival in the Great Danes. The Seawolves jumped out to an early 2-0 lead off scoring by its team standouts, graduate midfielder Ally Kennedy and graduate attacker Taryn Ohlmiller. Eventually pulling ahead to 7-2 by midway through the first half, the Seawolves went into autopilot. Albany attempted to mount a comeback with a two-goal run at the beginning of the second half to cut the deficit to 9-6.

Stony Brook graduate midfielder Kaeli Huff quickly dashed those hopes with back-to-back goals at the 20 minute mark, helping the Seawolves maintain their lead to beat Albany for the third time this season.

Kennedy ended the day as the team’s leading scorer with five goals, moving past Kylie Ohlmiller for second all-time at Stony Brook with 257. She also grabbed five ground balls and four draw controls en route to being named tournament MVP, having set a new America East playoff record with 12 goals across two games in a postseason.

“It’s the mentality of the next play and you’ve got to make the play that’s ahead of you, not be focused on mistakes,” Kennedy said. “You have to win to stay alive and that’s been our goal and I don’t plan on stopping soon.”

Elsewhere on the offense, Huff finished with a hat trick while sophomore attacker Kailyn Hart joined Ohlmiller with two apiece. Ohlmiller also added four assists. Finally, senior attacker Rebecca Kinsley, redshirt-junior attacker Bridget Considine and senior midfielders Sarah Pulis and Siobahn Rafferty each added one goal as well. 

“We had the momentum on our side the whole time,” Huff said. “Yeah, I went out and had a couple goals, but that could have been anyone on our team and I was just in the right place at the right time.”

America East Co-Defender of the Year, senior midfielder Rayna Sabella, proved her defensive mettle with a team-high four caused turnovers and four ground balls. Redshirt-junior goalkeeper Kameron Halsall ended with 10 saves as well. Hallsall, Ohlmiller and Huff were named to the All-Tournament team alongside Kennedy.

“I think the defense performed really well this game,” Sabella said. “We knew coming in that we had to stick to what we do best and push em out and stop them from getting inside. We knew what we needed to do and we executed.”

With the only losses the team has faced this season coming against No. 1-ranked North Carolina and now-No. 3-ranked Syracuse, both Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) powerhouses, the Seawolves go into Selection Sunday looking to make it deep into the playoffs — as their goal all year has been.

During the selection show, aired on ESPNU on Sunday at 9 p.m., Stony Brook drew the No. 8 seed in the NCAA Tournament. They will face Towson at home on May 14 at noon.

“For some teams, winning the conference championship is the Super Bowl,” Spallina said. “For us, it’s the beginning.”

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