Women's Notebook: Stony Brook Has Found Its Identity

PHOTO BY GREGORY A SHEMITZ

Ally Kennedy has a team-best 53 goals for Stony Brook, which has won its last six games to improve to 10-4 for the season.


Ally Kennedy and Stony Brook have their identity and their confidence now, and that could make them a dangerous team in the coming month.

The junior midfielder was named the Brine/USL Player of the Week after scoring 22 combined points in wins over then-No. 13 Johns Hopkins, Albany and then-No. 16 USC to push the Seawolves’ winning streak to six games.

“I think that we finally found our identity,” said Kennedy, the Seawolves leading scorer with 62 points on 53 goals and 9 assists. “In the beginning of the year, we really struggled with that because of the amount of power we did lose. We definitely learned a lot from our early record. It’s brought our new identity to light and made this streak possible.”

In Kennedy’s first two seasons at Stony Brook, she took a back seat to such stars as two-time Tewaaraton finalist Kylie Ohlmiller and Division I all-time leading goal scorer Courtney Murphy, and the Seawolves were dominant. They lost just one regular-season game in her first two seasons. This year, Stony Brook lost two games in their first two weekends and were 4-4 after an 11-10 loss to Florida on Mar. 23. Kennedy believes it will ultimately help them in tournament time.

“It definitely sucked,” Kennedy said. “That time period was not fun. But it taught us a lot, not only about our personnel but about what it feels like to lose. We only knew how it felt at the end of a season. So to pick ourselves up off the ground and be able to come back and face adversity, I think helped us moving forward. Losing sucks, but it definitely taught us a lot.”

Over that tough stretch, Kennedy also learned to take on a new leadership role. Kennedy was already slated to be far more prominent this year, and then Stony Brook missed Taryn Ohlmiller for five games after arthroscopic surgery on her knee.

“Ally is an incredible captain and leader,” said Stony Brook head coach Joe Spallina. “That was an adjustment for her at the beginning. Everyone was game planning for her, whereas last year she was maybe an option behind Murphy and Taryn and Kylie. Now she’s in everyone’s game plan how to stop her.

“She does everything. If you look at where Kylie came up with the Tewaaraton, this kid has goals, assists, draw controls, ground balls, she checks every box. She’s incredible off the field as well as a leader and role model for everyone around her.”

Kennedy and Stony Brook had growing pains together. Offensively, the Seawolves shooting was down at 39.1 percent for 82nd in the country after they were 4-4. It’s climbed to 37th over their 6-game win streak to reach 43.4, important because they are still producing a lot of shots.

“We can pat ourselves on the back for that because it still shows we’re a dangerous offense,” Kennedy said. “I think moving forward in the season our shooting percentage has improved because we’ve gotten in the flow of things and we’ve adjusted to not having those top-tier shooters anymore.”

Kennedy has been a part of the solution lately after a slow start. Over the season’s first two weekends, she shot 2 for 10 in a loss to Denver and was just 2 for 8 in a loss to Stanford. She’s ranks No. 1 in the country in shots on goal at 8.57 per game. The next closest Seawolves player, Siobhan Rafferty, is only averaging 4.14 per game.

“My shooting percentage in the beginning of the year was awful,” Kennedy said. “I guess I wasn’t used to getting that amount of shots on goal per game. It was a big change for me. It really stuck out when I was getting 14 shots per game and only having two goals. It jumped out at me.”

At the other end, Stony Brook’s defense has been on the rise as well. They surrendered an average of 13 goals per game in their four losses. In their six-game winning streak, only USC reached double digits with a goal with 2:01 left Sunday.

“Our defense is back to the identity of our team,” Spallina said. “I think we got away from it a little bit last year. When you have the type of offensive firepower we had you can sometimes get away from who you really are, and for us it’s that blue collar defense where we’re able to turn good defense into easy offense. For us, it was stripping it down and getting back to the original version of Stony Brook defense. It’s something that our kids take great pride in.”

Improvements at both ends have shown up in top-20 wins and a stretch that has them fulfilling their America East favorites role again and looking to be a sleeper team in the NCAA tournament. They are winning close games that they weren’t in the beginning of the year.

“It might not be a typical Stony Brook lacrosse season since Coach Spallina has been here, but it’s by far one of the more dangerous teams he’s coached because we’ve gotten a taste of losing and bounced back,” Kennedy said. “I feel like once you face adversity like we have and know how to dig yourself out of multiple holes like we have before, that we’re going to be a dangerous team later in the playoffs.”







Just How They Drew it Up

No. 6 Notre Dame won the battle of the top two draw control teams in the country, and their 16-7 edge on the draw almost exactly mirrored their 15-7 win over then-No. 12 Duke on Sunday. The draw control dominance led to a giant 44-18 shot advantage.

Savannah Buchanan matched her season-high with eight draw controls and Andie Aldave added to her program record with five draw controls to go with four goals and two assists as the Irish improved to 13-2 overall, 5-2 in the ACC, their best mark in the conference since joining in 2014. The Irish are unbeaten out of conference. Aldave has a program-record 122 draw controls.

Top-5 ACC Matchup Goes Heels Way

No. 3 North Carolina asserted itself in a top-five matchup when it snapped No. 4 Syracuse’s seven-game winning streak with an 11-5 win Saturday. North Carolina showed depth with Katie Hoeg (career-high six assists( and Tayler Warehime (career-high tying four goals) to help the Heels to their fourth straight win and sixth in the last seven meetings between the teams.

The Heels finish the regular season Friday at Duke, their fourth road game out of their final five ACC games. A win would secure the No. 3 spot for the ACC tournament and a likely rematch with Duke at ACC tournament host Boston College.

Ivy Looks for Separation

Dartmouth’s win over Penn and Cornell’s win over Brown left four Ivy League teams with just one loss after Saturday, but the conference race will get some clarity this week.

Penn will host Princeton in one battle of one-loss teams Wednesday night. Dartmouth will host Cornell on Saturday.

Minutewomen Return To Top

Overtime went to UMass in this year’s first meeting with Richmond. Richmond snapped the Minutewomen’s 9-year conference championship winning streak with an overtime win in the Atlantic 10 championship game last year. UMass avenged that loss with a 13-12 overtime win over the Spiders on Sunday to clinch the A10 regular-season title.

Lauren Hiller had a career-high 17 saves, including one with 20 seconds left in regulation. Kaitlyn Cerasi had seven points and scored the game-winner. Caitlyn Petro won seven draw controls. The teams could very well meet again in the A10 tournament final.

Aggies Earn MPSF Bye

UC Davis pulled away from San Diego State in the second half for a 16-12 win to earn the regular season Mountain Pacific Sports Federation title Saturday. The defending league champion Aggies earned a bye for the MPSF tournament and will host the San Diego State-Fresno State winner in the tournament championship Apr. 28.

Taylor Cuenin scored four of her game-high six goals in a 10 minute stretch in which the Aggies outscored San Diego State, 5-0, to get some breathing room in the second half. Cuenin, the 2018 MPSF Player of the Year, has a career-high 47 goals.

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