Category: News

Local Muslims experience double-standard in wake of recent London terrorist attack

Originally published at The Long Islander

Abdur-Rahman Partap’s coarse, black beard stands out in mostly white Long Island. To a point that, he says, he gets beeped at, and scorned on his drive to work. The niece of Habeeb Ahmed fears leaving her house in a hijab without her husband now. She has had her scarf pulled in public, and regularly receives dirty looks when wearing it. One woman, who wished to remain anonymous for her own safety, said that the day after the London attack, she got a phone call from an unknown number: “B***h, f**k you. Go back to your country,” the voice screamed from the other end of the line.

Hate crimes against the Islamic community in the United States are at their highest levels since 2001, according to FBI data. And, in the wake of London’s terrorist attack last week, the anti-Islamic rhetoric on Long Island has soared.

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“When people say ‘go back to your country,’ what do I have to say to these people?” Ahmed, the vice-president of the Islamic Center of Long Island, asked. “This is my country. My son was born and brought up here. What gives you the right to talk to us, legal residents here, like that?”

Ahmed has noticed a double-standard in the way Muslims are treated after high-profile jihadist attacks.

“[When white people commit crime,] a report comes back to say that a shooter is mentally disturbed,” Ahmed said. “No Muslim is ever mentally disturbed if they do these things.”

Every time a terrorist attack happens, his heart races in anticipation of what could happen to him, his family and his community if the perpetrator claims to be a Muslim.

“I feel that subconsciously local Muslims [wait] after extremist events to settle down,” Hashaam Nasheer, a resident of Manorville, said. “They try to avoid anything that would cause attention to themselves or to Muslims in general.”

Shirley Masjib has upped its security in recent years after heightened discrimination both locally and around the world.

Negativity is not all that local Muslims experience, though it is pervasive.

“I’ve been in the grocery store and had a woman come up to me and apologize on behalf of her country and what’s going on and how Islam and Muslims are portrayed,” Abdul-Lateef Poulos, the Imam of Shirley Masjid, said.

Poulos believes the source of discrimination is American’s zero-sum take on immigration: equal rights for others are equated to a lost rights for the majority.

“I think there is a feeling of losing of power, culturally speaking, in America where what was once a monolithic culture, at least the dominant one, is being lost,” he said.

Other factors that have contributed, Poulos said, including media-generated stereotypes. Some of these ideations are so strong that they can creep into the thoughts of Muslims themselves.

Last June, during the Islamic holy season of Ramadan, Nasheer walked down the streets of Manhattan before the crack of dawn, 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning, wearing his white Thawb, a traditional Arabic robe. Through the early fog, he saw another man donning similar attire, with a black beard and a big bag.

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“For a second, and just for a split second, I was a bit afraid,” he recalled. “Then I came to my senses.”

The phrase “Islamic terrorism” is also problematic, Ahmed says, due to its improper use of being a descriptor and emblem of a much larger group of people.

“Just call me a terrorist, don’t call me an Islamic terrorist,” he said. “Why do you need to bring a population of 1.6 billion into the picture. That’s a major problem.”

Ahmed, who as a Muslim born in India, says he has always faced religious discrimination and reaches out to other marginalized groups to find solace. He is friends with the brother of Marcelo Lucero, an Ecuadorian immigrant who was killed in a 2008 hate crime. Every anniversary of his death, Ahmed visits Lucero’s grave.

“This is the least I can do to pay my respects to this man,” Ahmed said.

Poulos added that one way to break the tension toward the Islamic community is to abolish the “us-versus-them” binary perspective of many ethnically Western Americans.

“If a view the world as ‘us’ and ‘them’ and you define ‘us’ as being Americans or Christians,” he said. “And the other as being Muslims, than that’s how you’re going to see the world and you’re not going to give those courtesies that you would to your own to the other.”

Despite the visceral attacks to his own people, Ahmed uses the teachings of Muhammad to remain hopeful for the future.

“[God] is going to take care of everyone, whether you’re a Muslim or Christian or a Jew or whoever you are,” Ahmed said. “Because he has created all of us.”

Apple farmers fear early-season warm spells could doom another crop

Originally published at The Long Islander

An unseasonably warm could cause the New York State apple crop to reach an advanced stage of growth earlier than usual, resulting in perhaps a severe loss of crops.

Several orchard owners, including one on Long Island, have expressed concern that the temperatures — over 60-degrees Fahrenheit in some locations — will make trees lose their “winter hardiness” and become vulnerable to a late frost.

These fears come after a disappointing 2016 season in which over 90 percent of the state’s apple crop was decimated due to sudden cold spells late last spring.

“The blossoms will come early and then the real problem is that if we have a normal freeze in May we can lose crops,” Joy Crist of Crist Brothers Orchard in Walden, New York said. “The recent weather is really setting up for a crop loss that might come at a later time when the trees cannot protect themselves from the cold.”

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Trees are not yet bloomed but a continuation of mild temperatures could bring flowering sooner than preferred.

Once matured, a temperature below 28-degrees could annihilate an entire crop, multiple farmers said. A low yearly yield due to weather is not uncommon in fruit farms, but would be especially difficult given the disappointing 2016 season.

“Last year we had a bad crop due to a late frost,” Autumn Piazza, an orchardist at Fishkill Farms in Hopewell Junction, said. “We were supposed to get double the produce we had the year before, but since we’re falling into this pattern of warmer winter weather, we are at risk of losing a good chunk of our crops.”

Piazza recalled that the situation escalated to such a point last year that the orchard set up “mini bon fires” to prevent blossomed trees from freezing in the winter and spring. If the weather proceeds in a similar manner, such precautions could be taken again.

On Long Island, the concern is a bit mitigated due to a more moderate climate than the “fringe temperatures” of the cold upstate.

But Lou Amsler, the owner of Richter’s Orchard in Northport, one of only two apple farms in central Long Island, is cautiously optimistic about his crop this year, provided that temperature changes are slow and minimal.

“With this hot weather, it needs to cool off gradually,” Amsler explained. “If it cools gradually, the trees can safely go back into their dormant mode.”

Quick weather fluctuations can cause several adversities to apple growth. Flowers can be killed outright. Damaged seeds can cause pollination problems, which can lead to deformities, rigid skin or “frost rings” on the fruits.

Some traditional southern-grown pitted fruits are more susceptible to cold snaps than apples, the chief fruit grown in New York.

“Our apple trees are okay as of now,” Piazza said. “But our cherries, plums, pears, peaches and stone fruit are beginning to bud so we could potentially be losing them yet again.”

For apples, worries are still limited this early in the season, but orchard growers are keeping a keen eye on the weather forecast for the upcoming months.

State DEC may test contaminated Bethpage water this spring

Originally published at The Long Islander

Field testing of ground-water contamination at Bethpage’s “Grumman Plume” could begin this spring, Martin Brand, spokesperson for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, said in an email.. The investigation comes after decades of neglect for pollution at the site.

The DEC began its probe of the situation, an expansive leak of toxins from now-closed Northrop Grumman and U.S. Navy manufacturing plants on Feb. 17. 

“It’s an engineering investigation,” Brand, Deputy Commissioner for Remediations and Materials Management for the DEC, said. “We’ll take a look at the extent of the groundwater plumes and develop plans to keep that plume from migrating further, from moving, from expanding, and impacting drinking water supply wells that are currently not impacted.”

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Audio Slideshow link: http://longislander.info/science-technology/state-dec-may-test-contaminated-bethpage-water-this-spring/

The problem was first identified in the 1940s, but has not been vigorously pursued until now. Many activists in the area are unhappy with the amount of time that it took to launch a comprehensive study, but are thankful that it is now underway.

“We’re a bit of both emotions,” Adrienne Esposito, head of the Citizen’s Campaign for the Environment, said. “Obviously, we’re glad the state is finally recognizing that there is a problem with the groundwater their citizens are drinking, but this should have come sooner.”

One of the leaked chemicals is trichloroethylene, which the Environmental Protection Agency has labeled as a carcinogen. Now the DEC has unveiled a comprehensive plan to start to take measures against stopping the plume from spreading.

“The plan is officially effective immediately,” Aphrodite Montalvo of the Long Island DEC said. “The DEC and Albany met throughout the week to figure out a proper plan and were able to get one done before announcing to the public on Friday.”

The plume is a two-mile-long by three-mile-wide area that has been slowly becoming larger, percolating its way into the Massapequa and Farmingdale water wells, according to the DEC in a press conference Friday afternoon.

“We’re going to spend 2017 doing the evaluation,” Brand said. “What those results will look like is a serious of options and alternatives that we can take, actually out there on the ground that would control that groundwater plume.”

Activists are still unhappy with the delay of the investigation, but are thrilled that action is finally taken.

“We are very happy that the DEC has decided to finally do something,” Esposito said. “They have agreed that the plume should be intercepted, the water contamination treated and then have a portion of the treated water recharged into the aquifer. This is exactly what we’ve been calling for, and what’s needed.”

Northrop Grumman was contacted, but declined to comment for the purposes of this story.

Brand indicated that although it was unlikely that any state-ordered maintenance would occur until 2018, the initial investigation will be completed this year.

“We expect to have preliminary results by the end of 2017,” Brand said. “The next step after that would be to go back to Navy and Grumman and say, ‘This is what we’ve come up with. Here is a plan for that groundwater plume. We want you to implement it and we want you to pay for it.’”

Private contractors of Northrop Grumman and the Navy are cleaning the site in various ways already, with the hope to prevent the plume from growing further in size.

Rutgers cancels trip to Mecca despite executive ban appeal

Originally published at The Long Islander

The Center of Islamic Life at Rutgers University has cancelled an upcoming hajj, citing airport discrimination anxieties despite a federal appeals court refusing to reinstate President Trump’s executive travel ban.

The cancellation of the hajj to Mecca on March 11, considered a mandatory religious duty for any Muslim to carry out at least once in his or her life, is indicative of a greater trend among universities throughout the Tri-State Area. The schools are promoting cautious travel policy and citizens from the seven potentially banned nations have expressed travel timidity due to ambiguous status, as expressed by a number of university chaplains and students in the Greater New York Area.

“I don’t want to put students through an interrogation myself,” Kaiser Aslam, Rutgers’ Muslim Chaplain said. “I’ve been in one for six hours in previous years. We don’t want to put students through that and we’re not sure how they would react to it, so it’s causing us to halt our travel plans and our programming.”

He estimates that 200 to 300 Rutgers students have expressed general fears of prejudice at jama’ah, an Islamic congregational prayer. These anxieties played a part in the trip’s indefinite postponing.

“Honestly it’s leading to a cultural phenomenon where students are just giving up their travel plans because they don’t know what is going to happen,” Aslam said.

At least one Rutgers student studying abroad was barred from reentering the United States, although no specific names were disclosed due to ongoing legal proceedings and in order to preserve the wishes of the impacted student(s), Aslam and Yasmin Ramadan, former president of Rutgers’ Muslim Public Relations Council, confirmed.

Some schools, including Yale University, are recommending that students from nations who would be debarred if the executive order stands preclude themselves from any travel outside the United States.

“We have received a lot of personal e-mails from the dean and the president of the university and everything,” Mohamed Osman, a sophomore chemistry major at Yale and a Sudanese citizen, said. “They have been in very close contact with us, letting us know what’s going on.”

Osman attended high school at an English-speaking international high school in Khartoum, and struggles with the possibility that students there now — including his younger brother Khalid, now a high school junior — would not have the same opportunity he had: to attend an American university.

“The director of the school recommended that you don’t plan on going to the U.S.,” Osman said. “It is true that a lot of the people this year are not going to have the opportunities that I got two years ago, which is really sad in my opinion.”

Osman is the only member of his family that lives in the United States, and acknowledged that the ban would prevent him from seeing his relatives, either during the upcoming spring break or in the case of an emergency.

For Stony Brook sophomore Niloofar Sima, this anxiety has become a reality. Sima, who grew up in Mashhad, Iran, moved to the U.S. at age 14 with her immediate family, but all of her extended family still lives in the Middle East, including her grandparents, who helped raise her and her sister.

“[My mom] called me yesterday to tell me that my grandma is in the hospital,” Sima said. “And she was crying. She was like, ‘I don’t even care. I’m gonna go regardless. It’s my mother.’ I told her you going there is not going to change a thing. Whatever happens to her still happens.”

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Feb. 9 in a 3-0 decision not to reinstate the order. The future of the case remains up in the air.

A group of 17 prominent higher education institutions, including all eight Ivy League colleges, co-authored an amicus briefing Feb. 13 in support of the plaintiffs of a district court case relevant to the ban, Columbia University Assistant Chaplain Mouhamadou Diagne confirmed.

“The uncertainty generated by the Order and its implementation is already having negative impacts well beyond persons from the seven affected countries. People from all over the world are understandably anxious about having their visas prematurely canceled through no fault of their own,” the 33-page briefing stated. “Comments by high-ranking Executive Branch officials have suggested that the Order could be extended to other countries, heightening institutional anxiety.”

The president tweeted on Thursday, “SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!” insinuating that he would appeal the case to the Supreme Court, but White House officials later said that rewording and reissuing the initial executive order is also an option.

Vermont edges Stony Brook in America East title rematch

Originally published in The Statesman

Only one player seemed able to shoot the three-pointer at Island Federal Credit Union Arena on Saturday night. Luckily for the Vermont Catamounts, that player was theirs.

Ernie Duncan, Vermont’s redshirt sophomore guard, made six three-pointers in the team’s 74-67 win over Stony Brook. The Catamounts redeemed themselves against the team that handed them a loss in the America East Championship last season and maintained a perfect 8-0 record in 2017 conference play.

The Seawolves trailed by as many as 17 points in the first half, but crawled their way back to a 50-50 tie with 11:02 left to play in the game.

An erratic performance behind the three-point line plagued Stony Brook down the stretch; the team’s 2-for-19 shooting from beyond the arc was its worst showing in the discipline all season.

“We knew watching the tape that, the way they play defense, we could get open shots,” Stony Brook head coach Jeff Boals said. “Out of those 19 shots, I’d probably take 14 of them again. They were wide open looks.”

Duncan totaled 22 points for the Catamounts in the game. His fifth three-pointer, with 2:24 remaining in the first half, gave his team a 39-22 lead. But the Seawolves showed resilience in a measuring-stick game against the conference favorites.

Senior guard Lucas Woodhouse rattled in a double-pump fadeaway jumper at the first-half buzzer to cap an 8-0 run and cut the score to 39-30. The point guard was stellar throughout the contest, recording 22 points and five assists, without committing a turnover.

“He’s got the ultimate green light,” Boals said. “I don’t know what’s greener than green. … I tell him, ‘Just throw them up there — they’ll go in.’ When he’s aggressive we’re a completely different team. I thought in the first half he was passing shots up, which I think hurt us, but he’s just not a selfish type of kid.”

It was during a second Stony Brook run — a 15-2 span early in the second half — that Boals himself waved to pump up the crowd, and it obliged. Fueled by offensive rebounds and seven points by Woodhouse, the Seawolves made the score 50-50.

The Seawolves had 12 offensive rebounds in the game, with junior center Jakub Petras and junior forward Junior Saintel grabbing four and two, respectively.

“Jake’s just a high energy guy,” Boals said. “He’s really figured out what his role is, accepted his role and is really playing out his role very well.”

But just as the Seawolves approached the precipice of a scoreboard advantage, the rim turned against them. Freshman forward Akwasi Yeboah missed six of his seven three-point attempts and junior guard Bryan Sekunda, who entered as the team’s No. 2 shooter (behind Woodhouse), missed all three of his tries.

“It was just an off night,” Woodhouse said. “They’re a good defensive team, but for us to shoot that bad. … I don’t think we’ll shoot that bad [against them] again.”

Stony Brook was still within two points with two minutes to play in the game, but Vermont freshman forward Anthony Lamb scored a layup to put Vermont up four. On the next Catamounts possession, Saintel committed an ill-advised foul while trying to jump a passing lane, allowing Duncan to shoot a pair of free-throws to put his team up six and seal the Seawolves’ fate.

Stony Brook will play a home game against New Hampshire on Wednesday in a crucial America East conference matchup. The Seawolves are the league’s second place team with a 6-2 record, while the Wildcats lag slightly behind in third, with a 5-3 record, meaning the game has significant seeding implications.

Stony Brook beat New Hampshire, 59-56, in the teams’ first meeting in the Granite State on Jan. 5.

“I told our guys, ‘You’re 6-and-2. You’ve won six games. Everyone’s going to come at you now,’” Boals said. “We’re no longer the preseason number seven pick. We’re the number two team in the conference. We’re going to get everyone’s best shot.”

Stanley discusses Stony Brook’s diversity plans at town hall

Originally published at The Statesman

President Samuel L. Stanley, Jr. vowed to make Stony Brook University a center for diversity and inclusivity on Wednesday afternoon, when he and eight other panelists presented the university’s Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Initiative.

“I don’t need to tell you that these are troubling times right now,” Stanley said to a crowd of about 500 at a town hall meeting in the Charles B. Wang Center. “Many people have concerns. I think it’s more important than ever that Stony Brook University be a place where we value all members of our community.”

Throughout the hour-long session, the panel stressed that not all discrimination is conscious and that efforts are underway to make the university faculty and community aware of implicit bias.

Robbye Kinkade, an African-American professor of health science, serves as the director for the Responding to Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, or REDI, Project. The initiative educates the staff about implicit bias and provides the opportunity to take part in periodic diversity seminars.

“We are trying to broaden our definition of diversity,” Kinkade said. “It’s not just about race and ethnicity. It includes gender identity, sexual orientation, military status and so on.”

Stony Brook is looking to broaden its diversity, particularly among African American students, Stanley said. The percentage of black students at the university has decreased from 8.8 percent of the student body in 2005 to 6.5 percent in 2015.

The school will increase its efforts to encourage black students to attend Stony Brook, with outreach programs at regional high schools, especially in the Bronx and Brooklyn, Stanley said.

The initiative also seeks an increase in underrepresented faculty, to establish a culture in which “Stony Brook is the place to be,” for prospective employees, said Stella Tsirka, Ph.D., the co-chair of the initiative’s Faculty Working Group.

“We need to establish Stony Brook as a welcoming hub for underrepresented professionals,” Tsirka said. “A good way to do that is to establish workshops nationally … annually or biannually.”

The university has allocated between $750,000 and $1 million in funding for the diversity initiative, Stanley said. The president added that Stony Brook has created the new administrative position of chief diversity officer. A search to fill the position is underway.

At the undergraduate level, five subcommittees have been created as part of the initiative, Timothy Ecklund, Ph.D., dean of students, said. The committees are Recruitment and Admissions; Student Engagement, Involvement and Retention; Curriculum; Training; and Campus Climate.

The proposed programs Ecklund spoke about include a one-hour orientation course on diversity and gender for incoming students and the implementation of programs for international, non-English speaking students to aid with the acclimation process.

The forum featured two student speakers — senior Dwayne Moore and junior Sydney Gaglio — who spoke on behalf of the undergraduate body.

“The thing that really hits me deep in my heart was that it’s not just about diversity, but about inclusiveness,” Moore, the president of the Black Student Union on campus, said.

“It’s making sure that if you’re a woman who’s black and identifies as LGBTQ, and your major is dominated by white men, that you don’t feel different,” he continued. “You have to feel like you have the support of your staff, your classmates and your university to push you forward in your endeavors.”

At the event’s conclusion, during a Q&A session, an audience member asked Stanley specifically about President-elect Donald Trump and the discriminatory rhetoric that has come from some of his supporters.

“What we’re doing now has never been more important,” Stanley replied. “In a world that seems to be retreating in ideals more than ever, it is important that Stony Brook University stands — stands for what is right.”

Temple outclasses Stony Brook, wins in blowout

Originally published in The Statesman

After being competitive with Football Bowl Subdivision opponents in recent seasons, Stony Brook failed to seriously challenge Temple on Saturday afternoon, falling 38-0 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The Owls, who were runners-up in the American Athletic Conference in 2015, found the end zone early and often against the Seawolves.

The two teams traded punts to open the game, then Temple redshirt freshman wide receiver Cortrelle Simpson took the ball on a reverse play and ran 36 yards along the left sideline. Two plays later, sophomore running back Ryquell Armstead punched in a 3-yard carry to give the Owls a 7-0 lead.

Stony Brook failed to record a first down on the following drive — the first of six consecutive possessions without moving the chains — and Temple responded by marching down the field, where senior quarterback Phillip Walker found redshirt junior Keith Kirkwood on a 5-yard pass into the endzone. The touchdown, the first of Walker’s three and the first of Kirkwood’s two, put Temple in the lead, 14-0.

By the end of the first half, the lead had grown to 28-0, while the announced crowd of 22,296 had diminished substantially. The 93-degree heat was one factor, but the game’s lopsidedness seemed to be the main deterrent.

Stony Brook’s offense ended the day with seven first downs, nine punts and no points. Its 133 yards is the fewest for the program in recent memory.

“Their defense played a great game. We didn’t. That’s what happened,” redshirt sophomore quarterback Joe Carbone said.

Carbone threw a pair of interceptions in the game, gaining just 29 yards through the first three quarters of the game, before Temple inserted its backup players into the game.

While the vaunted Stony Brook defense — the Football Championship Subdivision’s best last season — allowed 38 points, much of the damage was facilitated by the short fields it was forced to protect.

Stony Brook redshirt sophomore punter Marc Nolan was erratic at times, with kicks of 26 and 19 yards in the first half. Temple had long returns on other punts and also capitalized on turnovers to gain optimal field position. Through the first three quarters, the Owls did not start any of their 12 drives inside their own 30-yard line.

“It doesn’t help the defense when all their drives are 20, 30-yards,” coach Chuck Priore said. “We understand that 85 scholarships trumps 63 scholarships and that often shows on special teams and subsidiary types of situations.”

FBS schools are allowed to issue 85 scholarships to football players, while FCS schools are only permitted 63.

The Seawolves defense limited the Owls to 301 yards overall, an average of 4.7 per play. On an ordinary day, such numbers would put the team in a position to win, but in Saturday’s game, it could not make up for Stony Brook’s ineptitude.

“We can’t really afford to make mistakes when we’re that close to the touchdown [the whole game],” redshirt sophomore linebacker Noah McGinty said. “There’s no excuses for where the ball is [to start the drives], we just have to play.”

The game, which was held at the home stadium of the Philadelphia Eagles, was the second game in Stony Brook Football history to take place in an NFL stadium. Six seasons ago, the Seawolves lost to the South Florida Bulls, 59-14, in Raymond James Stadium, home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“It’s pretty cool, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Carbone said. “We watch our idols play here. It’s like a wake-up call, like, ‘This is real.’”

The road will not get any easier for the Seawolves. On Saturday, Stony Brook hosts No. 2 Richmond, one of the best FCS teams in the nation.

While the Seawolves were outclassed in their FBS matchup this season, the Spiders defeated the Virginia Cavaliers of the Atlantic Coast Conference, 37-20, in Week 1.

The game will kick off at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium at 12 p.m.

Draw woes, questionable call end Stony Brook’s season against Syracuse

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.”

Mitchell scores in last second, Stony Brook beats Albany for AE crown

Originally published in The Statesman

The game was tied with mere seconds remaining. The ball lay nestled in the stick of Stony Brook freshman midfielder Kasey Mitchell as the crowd — speckled with Stony Brook red and Albany purple alike — stood collectively with anticipation.

Watching most of the contest from the sideline, Mitchell had not recorded a single statistic all day. But with the America East Women’s Lacrosse Championship on the line, the freshman had a free-position chance to win the game at the buzzer.

She delivered.

Mitchell took two steps in from the left and shot the ball under the crossbar and into the net, sending the Stony Brook bench and crowd into eruption. The Seawolves defeated the Great Danes, 10-9, to claim their fourth consecutive conference title.

So what was going through Mitchell’s head as she stepped to the free-position line, preparing for the game-deciding shot?

“Honestly, nothing,” Mitchell said. “I was just praying to God that it went in.”

Head coach Joe Spallina, who said he had never won a lacrosse game with a buzzer-beater in his life — not as a player nor as a coach at any level — had complete faith in the freshman to keep composure in the highest of stakes.

“Ice in her veins, man,” Spallina said. “She’s a tough kid.

“I think when you’re a little kid, it’s like that situation, you know, bases loaded, bottom of the ninth, mighty Kasey at the bat,” he said, grinning at his pun. “She hit it out of the park.”

The game could not have been much closer, as Stony Brook and Albany were tied eight times in the contest. Neither team took a lead larger than two goals, a stark contrast from last Saturday’s regular season meeting when the Seawolves annihilated the Great Danes, 13-4.

“I think they played their offense a little differently,” junior midfielder Dorrien Van Dyke, who scored four goals in the game, said. “They definitely had more of a fight today.”

With 4:14 remaining in the game, Albany senior midfielder Rachel Bowles scored on a free-position shot to give the Great Danes a 9-8 lead, their first of the second half.

Albany controlled the ensuing draw and looked to burn as much time as possible. America East co-Defensive Player of the Year Alyssa Fleming forced junior attacker Dakotah Savitcheff into a critical turnover and secured the ground ball. Stony Brook cleared the zone, taking offense, where Spallina called timeout with two minutes remaining.

“Pretty much when you go down and people are stalling in the women’s game it’s almost impossible to get the ball back,” junior attacker Courtney Murphy said. “Flem won the game for us, she came up with that ball … I think people would forget about that play, but if it wasn’t for her they would have been celebrating on our field.”

When play resumed, the ball cycled around the field. It eventually found junior attacker Alyssa Guido, who found Murphy crashing to the front of the net for a quick catch-and-shoot to tie the game, 9-9. Scoring her 95th goal of the season, Murphy leapt wildly with celebration, having kept her team’s championship hopes alive.

“We just needed a goal,” Murphy, who was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, said. “By any means necessary, we had to do it. Guido’s awesome, she found me. I closed my eyes and I heard it hit the pipe — we had hit the pipe on two shots before that — so I was like ‘No way, oh my god it’s going to pipe and out,’ but it went in and we got the momentum.”

Murphy scored four goals in the game, creeping closer to the NCAA single-season goals record, 98, set by Delaware’s Karen Emas in 1984.

Savitcheff also scored four goals in the game, as the Great Danes star was a constant threat. Perhaps her finest play of the offensive player’s night came on defense, however. With just over seven minutes to play, Savitcheff stripped the ball from Stony Brook junior attacker Taylor Ranftle in the neutral zone. She garnered the loose ball and hurled a deep pass for junior midfielder Sarah Martin, who scored on a breakaway to tie the game 8-8.

“We just had some breakdowns,” Spallina said of his defense. “[Savitcheff]’s a really good player, they put her in good spots, she made plays.”

But the game will be remembered for the unlikely heroism of Mitchell, the freshman whose nerves kept cool enough for Stony Brook to win the game and clinch its spot in the NCAA Tournament.

“That finish, I mean, I don’t even know how you can write it up because I don’t even have words for it,” Van Dyke said. “It was awesome.”

No. 8 Stony Brook Men’s Lacrosse falls to Marist in overtime thriller

Originally published in The Statesman

The game had it all — behind-the-back goals, controversial calls and overtime — but in the waning seconds of the extra period, Marist freshman attackman Thomas Rago slipped behind the Stony Brook defense, took a pass from junior attackman J.D. Recor and scored to give the Red Foxes a 10-9 upset victory over the eighth-ranked Seawolves on Tuesday night.

Stony Brook had several opportunities to win the game, most notably in the final minute of regulation. With 55 seconds to play, the Seawolves led, 9-8, and Marist senior attackman Joseph Radin missed the net wide of the goal. Stony Brook backed up the shot, gaining possession with a chance to run down the clock.

Stony Brook senior defenseman Lucas Rock had the ball near his own goal. Marist sophomore goalkeeper Brian Corrigan abandoned the net, as the Red Foxes pressed in search of a turnover.

Head coach Jim Nagle told Rock to shoot at the open goal, despite being 70 yards away, so he did, launching the ball across the field, over the net and out-of-bounds. It appeared that Stony Brook was closest to the wayward shot attempt, which would give the Seawolves possession. But after brief deliberation, the officials awarded possession to the Red Foxes instead, leaving the Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium crowd stupefied.

“The guy initially made the call, red [Marist’s jersey color],” Nagle said. “I don’t think he thought it was a shot, and then he conferred with the other guy. My question was, why did he need to confer? If red was closest, and it was a pass, then it’s red ball either way. So they conferred, and then they stuck to his call, which I didn’t really understand.”

Marist gained possession, cleared its zone and tied the game with 13.1 seconds left, as sophomore midfielder Gannon Morrison scored past Stony Brook sophomore goalkeeper Brandon Maciejewski. The contest headed to overtime, where the Seawolves had two offensive possessions — one of which ended in a turnover and the other of which ended in an unsuccessful shot attempt from senior midfielder Chris Hughes.

“From an offensive standpoint, we weren’t executing well,” senior attackman Brody Eastwood said. “We had a few costly turnovers, and it definitely hurt us in the end.”

Eastwood scored three goals, but the team struggled on offense as a whole. Stony Brook’s nine goals tied its fewest this season, set against Fairfield last month. The Seawolves finished the game with 12 turnovers, compared with the Red Foxes’ five, as ball insecurity contributed to the contest’s outcome.

Throughout the entire game, the lead switched back and forth. Neither team built a three-goal lead at any point in the evening. The first half ended at 3-3, as offense was scarce, but in the second half, particularly the fourth quarter, both teams’ attack picked up.

With 14:13 remaining in the game, senior attackman Matt Schultz received a pass from junior attackman Ryan Bitzer and shot the ball behind his back, tying the game, 6-6.

Minutes later, Marist responded, as Radin, the 2015 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year, beat Maciejewski on a behind-the-back goal of his own to give the Red Foxes an advantage.

Junior midfielder Alex Corpolongo used a screen from senior midfielder Challen Rogers and whipped in a perimeter goal from the right side. Seven seconds later, junior faceoff specialist Jay Lindsay won the draw to himself, stepped into the offensive third of the field and launched a second Stony Brook goal, putting the team up, 8-7, against Marist with 6:44 to play

“Any time you score two goals in that short of time, it’s a big boost,” said Lindsay, who won all eight fourth quarter faceoffs he attempted. “It helps the morale on the bench and gets everyone more into the game.”

But the change in momentum did not last, as Radin scored his fourth goal of the game just one minute later to tie the game, 8-8.

Eastwood gave the Seawolves a 9-8 lead with 4:32 remaining in regulation, finishing in traffic after receiving a pass from Rogers, but the potential game-winning goal was negated by Morrison’s heroics in the final minute.

Stony Brook’s overall record fell to 9-3 with the loss. Its only two losses before playing Marist were to Brown and Albany — two teams ranked in the top-10 of both major polls. Marist entered Tuesday’s game with a 5-5 record.

“To be honest, I thought our guys were going to be better than this team,” Nagle said. “We have a lot of upperclassmen, and it’s pretty disappointing. I think sometimes when you don’t expect to be in a tight game, and you are, you start to tighten up and choke a little bit. We did that tonight.”

Stony Brook returns to action on Saturday afternoon at 5 p.m., when the Seawolves host the UMass Lowell River Hawks.