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Ohlmiller’s record day lifts No. 8-seeded Stony Brook women’s lacrosse over Rutgers in NCAA Tournament

Graduate attacker Taryn Ohlmiller in the 2021 America East finals against Albany on May 8. Ohlmiller tied the NCAA Tournament record with eight assists versus Rutgers on May 16. ETHAN TAM/THE STATESMAN

Coming off an incredible performance in a win over Towson, graduate attacker Taryn Ohlmiller put up another career day with four goals and eight assists in the Stony Brook women’s lacrosse team’s 20-8 win over the Rutgers Scarlet Knights to advance to the NCAA Tournament Quarterfinals. The third woman to ever put up 12 points in an NCAA Tournament game and one point shy of tying the record, Ohlmiller has the Seawolves scorching-hot just when they needed it more than ever before.

Ohlmiller got started quickly when she found graduate midfielder Kaeli Huff for the first goal of the game. After what appeared to be the start of a back-and-forth affair, graduate midfielder Ally Kennedy turned on the jets to score her first goal of the day, off the draw control to kick off an impressive seven-goal run for the Seawolves. 

With Stony Brook up 10-2, the Scarlet Knights managed a quick two-goal run. But when Huff scored again before halftime, the Seawolves ran with the momentum to another run of five goals, going up 15-6 before Rutgers applied pressure to the wound with a goal of their own. Despite the Scarlet Knights’ best attempts, the offensive explosion from the Seawolves had already secured the win.

“Rutgers is a team we’ve never really seen play before,” Ohlmiller said in a postgame press conference. “We knew that they were going to come in with a zone. We knew that was going to be different as we’re used to a man-to-man. But even with one day to prepare, we know that it’s always about us playing Stony Brook lacrosse.”

Ohlmiller’s barrage gave her 408 career points, passing Courtney Murphy’s 406 for second-most in Stony Brook history, behind just her sister Kylie Ohlmiller’s 498 points, the all-time NCAA record. Also the new owner of the single-game points record for the Seawolves in an NCAA Tournament game and tying the NCAA Tournament single game record in assists, Taryn Ohlmiller has been on a mission during the tournament, scoring 19 points over the first two games.

“It’s really cool and something I wasn’t expecting at all,” Taryn said of sharing the top two Stony Brook career points spots with her sister. “It’s really special having me and Kylie up there, and while I definitely won’t catch up to her, it’s still really an honor.”

Meanwhile, Huff and Kennedy continued to have stellar playoff performances of their own as they added six goals, setting Huff’s career-high in goals, and four goals respectively. Senior midfielder Siobhan Rafferty scored two goals, while freshman midfielder Jaden Hampel, senior attacker Rebecca Kinsley, sophomore midfielder Kira Accettella and sophomore attacker Kailyn Hart each scored a goal as well. Redshirt junior attacker Bridget Considine also had five assists.

“I think all week we’ve been working on, and even in the first round game [against Towson], working on constantly moving,” Huff said. “It’s very easy to watch Taryn and Ally dodge all day long since they are so good at it, but we definitely put more of an emphasis on everybody moving around. The coaches have been saying, ‘You’re not always at the end of the rainbow. There’s how many steps to get to the end.’ And I think this team as a whole is very selfless.”

Defensively, senior midfielder Rayna Sabella and freshman midfielder Clare Levy wreaked havoc for the Scarlet Knights, leading Stony Brook to 12 caused turnovers. They also contributed play-stopping help slides to help redshirt junior goalkeeper Kameron Halsall — who formerly played for Rutgers before transferring to Stony Brook — put up seven saves.

“I couldn’t be more proud of us,” head coach Joe Spallina said. “For us to put together our most complete effort of the year in the biggest game of the year, these are the things you dream of for our players. For our seniors to play their final home game in our home stadium, and to put on the performance we did in front of a great crowd, I am just so happy for them.”

Riding high on momentum, the Seawolves now have a date with destiny in the form of a familiar foe: the 19-0 top-seeded North Carolina Tar Heels. Having previously beaten Stony Brook in the season opener, the powerhouse Tar Heels have been the No. 1 team in the nation for every single week this season behind Tewaaraton finalists Taylor Moreno and Jamie Ortega. The Seawolves have never made it past the quarterfinal round, while the Tar Heels were in the Final Four in the last NCAA Tournament back in 2019. 

As for how this all-time great Seawolves squad will attack what he admitted might just be the greatest college lacrosse roster ever assembled, Spallina provided an uncharacteristically reserved but tellingly confident response.

“We don’t have to be better 18 times,” Spallina said. “We don’t have to be better than them for three hours, we have to be better than them for 60 minutes of lacrosse. We’re going to enjoy this one for a couple of hours, then we are going to head to the lab and put together a game plan. They’re the best team in the country. They were then, they are now. We need to be the best team in the country for 60 minutes.”

Since the first practice after last season’s cancellation, the team knew all along that this is where they would be. With a deep roster oozing with talent on both offense and defense and one of the greatest coaches in the game on the sidelines, the time has come for the Seawolves to prove themselves against the best there is. Stony Brook faces North Carolina on Saturday at noon on ESPN3.

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