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Dominant defense helps SBU grab second straight conference title

Stony Brook won their second consecutive America East title (NINA LIN / THE STATESMAN)
Stony Brook won their second consecutive America East title with their victory against Albany. (NINA LIN / THE STATESMAN)

Frankie Caridi, the Most Outstanding Player of the America East Tournament, said at the conference’s award ceremony Thursday night that her Defensive Player of Year Award for Women’s Lacrosse meant nothing. 

All she wanted was to be on top, and she led the Seawolves to capture just that title in Stony Brook’s 7-1 win over Albany on Sunday. 

“I said it and I meant it,” Caridi, the senior Tewaaraton Award nominee, said. 

“This is all I wanted. Individual awards are great, but everything I get I can’t do without my team, my defense, everyone in front of me, so this is the best thing for all of us.”

That defense which Caridi spoke of ruled the day for the Seawolves, containing a possession-based strategy employed by the Great Danes. 

Much like Vermont did in the final game of the regular season against Stony Brook, Albany gained possession, and did not let it go. 

As long as Caridi and company were on the field, possession did not mean a thing. 

Quick collapsing on any moves the Great Danes made forced a lot of exterior passing and not a lot of aggression. 

It is hard to take a shot from 15 yards out, where Albany was held, making it nearly impossible for them to score. 

Sarah Martin of Albany scored early on to give the Great Danes the lead. 

But they would not see the back of the net for the final 52:24 of the game. 

Their only two goals were waved off for dangerous follow-throughs by midfielder Ariana Parker.

She was disqualified from the contest for the penalties. 

Coach Joe Spallina said that although Albany’s game plan made him nervous at times, the Seawolves were prepared.

“Our kids were prepared and it shows,” Spallina said. “You have one goal [given up] against one of the highest scoring teams in the country.”

After 17:09 of scoreless action at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium, the Seawolves broke the stalemate and never looked back. 

Junior Amber Kupres scored what would end up being the game-winning goal just 44 seconds into the second half. It was her 28th goal of the year.

“It gave us a huge boost of confidence,” Kupres said. 

Stony Brook, led by freshman Dorrien Van Dyke at the faceoff “x” and junior Michelle Rubino controlling the draws did a much better job of possessing the ball. 

Less turnovers led to more time of possession for the Seawolves.

It also gave their defense some rest to ensure that whenever Albany had a chance, they would be ready.

With only 9:48 to go into the game, Rubino, who was named to both the All-Conference First Team and All-Tournament team scored to give the Seawolves breathing room, opening the flood gates for Stony Brook.

In what was the lowest-scoring title game in America East history, Stony Brook scored five times in the final 10 minutes of the game to ensure the victory.

“I couldn’t be more proud of this group,” Spallina said. 

“This was supposed to be a rebuilding year I’ve been told by a lot of people and this has not been a rebuilding year, this has been a reloaded year.”

Stony Brook’s freshmen scoring phenoms Van Dyke and Courtney Murphy left their stamp on the game.

Van Dyke added a second goal and Murphy scored two of her own.

“It speaks volumes for all the freshmen that we’re leaning on so heavily that we were able to get a repeat here in the same kind of convincing fashion that we did last year,” Spallina said.

With their win, Stony Brook automatically qualified for the NCAA Tournament.

The 26-team tournament starts on May 9, with the selection show on May 4. 

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