Originally published in The Statesman.
The Stony Brook Women’s Lacrosse team’s season ended against Syracuse on Sunday afternoon, as the Orange used a late four-goal push to defeat the Seawolves, 7-6, and advance to the NCAA quarterfinals.
Stony Brook held senior midfielder Kayla Treanor, a two-time Atlantic Coast Conference Offensive Player of the Year, without a point, a shot attempt or even a ground ball in the contest.
But the Syracuse star’s presence made a difference in the draw circle. Treanor, the most effective self-drawer in the country, controlled eight faceoffs herself, while the Orange as a team beat the Seawolves in the category, 11-4.
“Possessions matter,” head coach Joe Spallina said. “I like to think that if we had the ball seven more times on offense, we’d be up two or three.”
Stony Brook’s defense had success through much of the first half. The team assigned a single player to follow around and “faceguard” Treanor — a tactic uncommon from the Seawolves zone — and the Orange did not score in the contest’s first 19:50. Treanor finally got the team rolling with strong faceoff play, however.
“She’s just so fast in the way she turns it back,” freshman midfielder Kasey Mitchell, who took the bulk of Stony Brook’s draws in the game, said. “You just have to try to keep it away from her, honestly. It’s a respect thing, you can’t try to beat her.”
With Stony Brook’s star’s facing double-teams, Mitchell scored three goals in the contest, the most in her young career, the third of which was 3:17 into the second half and gave the Seawolves a 5-3 lead.
“They were helping onto our main girls and someone had to step up,” Mitchell said. “I was just at the right spot at the right time.”
By virtue of dominance on the draw, Syracuse rallied back. Senior midfielder Kelly Cross scored off a quick pass from senior attacker Halle Majorana. Later in the half, the Orange scored on a pair of free-position goals — first from senior Gabby Jaquith then from redshirt sophomore Taylor Gait — to tie and go ahead, 6-5.
Treanor won the draw and Syracuse sought to kill the clock. Stony Brook senior defender Alyssa Fleming was assessed a yellow card on a stick-to-the-head call. With Fleming sidelined for two minutes, madness ensued.
Syracuse senior midfielder Erica Bodt struck post on the power play and the ball ricocheted all the way to the offensive zone line and out of bounds. Amid the commotion it was unclear which team would be awarded possession. In lacrosse, possession after a shot goes out of bounds is awarded to the player nearest to the ball when it crosses the line. Much to Spallina’s chagrin, the Seawolves were not given the ball in what would have been a chance to tie the game.
“It was a bad call,” Spallina said. “It’s a race to the ball, but their player was out of bounds before the ball went over the line. Once you’re out of bounds you’re not part of the play anymore. We had two players, still inbounds, closest to the ball.”
Syracuse was granted possession, getting a two-player man-up situation when sophomore attacker Kylie Ohlmiller was granted a yellow card.
“What the ref sees they have to call,” Ohlmiller said. “But when it’s a close game like that I think it has to be our ball. First of all, we were there first and second of all, I did not swing at her head.”
The Orange extended the lead to 7-5 on a free-position shot by Bodt. Stony Brook’s Samantha DiSalvo cut the score to 7-6 off an Ohlmiller feed, but Mitchell turned the ball over after winning the next faceoff.
The Seawolves’ attempts to force a turnover proved futile as the Orange ran out the clock to end the game. Stony Brook’s season ends with a 17-4 record, with three of the four defeats coming by 7-6 scores.
Stony Brook will return 96.8 percent of its goal-scorers next season, including junior midfielder Courtney Murphy, who scored her 100th goal of the season in the game, becoming the first player in Division-I lacrosse history to achieve the feat.
“You name it, offensively, they’ll be back,” Spallina said. “I love our talent, I love our system. This won’t be the case next year.”
But in the interim, the loss stings for a Stony Brook team that had national title aspirations.
“We want people to be scared to play us,” Ohlmiller said. “They were scared to play us. We had it in the bag, it was just a couple plays that we had to finish.”