UAlbany couldn’t break its long losing streak Saturday against Stony Brook, as the Seawolves won yet another America East Conference women’s lacrosse championship.
With a 16-9 win at its home Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium on Long Island, Stony Brook secured its eighth consecutive league championship. All eight of those title victories have come against a Great Danes program that has appeared in the last 10 conference championship games.
“We gave it our all,” UAlbany graduate student Madison Conway said during a post-game teleconference of the Great Danes’ effort.
“We were playing in the moment and not so worried about what happened in the past or what’s going to happen in the future. It’s all about the present,” said UAlbany head coach Katie Rowan Thomson, the America East Coach of the Year. “We stuck to that, and did our very best.”
Stony Brook, though, remains the top team in the America East. UAlbany (No. 2 seed, 11-7 overall) lost twice in the regular season before Saturday’s postseason defeat against Stony Brook (No. 1, 14-2), which is ranked No. 6 in the country. Overall, including its eight championship wins against the Great Danes, Stony Brook has defeated UAlbany in 17 consecutive matchups between the teams. Within America East play, Stony Brook has won 54 consecutive games.
In Saturday’s game, Stony Brook scored five of the first six goals and led 9-4 at halftime. UAlbany scored the first two goals after intermission, but Stony Brook answered back with five of the next six scores and UAlbany never was able to get closer than five the rest of the way.
Graduate student Ally Kennedy, the America East Midfielder of Year, scored five goals in the win for Stony Brook, while classmate Taryn Ohlmiller — the America East Attacker of Year — added two goals and four assists for the Seawolves who will represent the America East in the NCAA tournament. The tournament’s bracket will be unveiled Sunday night.
For UAlbany, Conway had four goals, while senior Kyle Zapolski had a goal and three assists. Sophomore Sarah Falk added three goals.
Zapolski is one of several UAlbany seniors eligible to come back next season since the NCAA afforded all players an extra year of playing eligibility. Zapolski said she hasn’t decided yet if she’ll be back for the 2022 season, but that the Great Danes were “extremely grateful” to get to play a 2021 season after their 2020 campaign was cut short because of concerns related to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“I think, honestly, we had a lot of fun,” Zapolski said of the season, which saw her score a team-leading 50 goals. “Even though this [championship game] may not have come out the way we wanted it to come out, I think we had a lot of fun as a team and we’ve grown really, really close. It’s been an awesome year.”
Conway, who came back for her extra year this season, seconded that.
“Absolutely, 100% worth it, coming back as a fifth-year,” said Conway, who closed her UAlbany career with a 59-point season. “We didn’t have that closure last season.”
The 2021 season, though, ended with the Seawolves still several steps ahead of the Great Danes. This season, Stony Brook outscored UAlbany 51-30 in their three matchups, winning each game by seven goals. Against America East foes other than Stony Brook, UAlbany was 8-0 and outscored its opponents 144-65 in those games.
Graduate student Jordyn Marr, another UAlbany player who came back for a fifth season, said Rowan Thomson has the Great Danes on the right track.
“This is only our second full year with our new coaching staff,” Marr said. “They’ve done a great job at changing our point of attack, changing our defense. We’re really still kind of young with this coaching staff, and they’re building a whole new team that’s definitely going to be able to attack [Stony Brook] in the future.”
Regardless of if any current UAlbany seniors return for next season, the Great Danes project to have a strong returning group of players for 2022. Freshman Katie Pascale led UAlbany in scoring with 63 points and won America East Rookie of the Year, while sophomore Clancy Rheude was named the league’s co-defensive player of the year.
UAlbany had advanced to the championship game with a 17-8 win against Vermont, a game the Great Danes started with an 8-0 run. Stony Brook topped UMBC 25-13 in its semifinal game.
Halftime score: Stony Brook led 9-4. UAlbany scoring: Conway 4-0, Zapolski 1-3, Falk 3-0, Harbinger 1-1. Stony Brook scoring: Ohlmiller 2-4, Kennedy 5-0, Huff 3-0, Kinsley 1-1, Hart 2-0, Pulis 1-1, Considine 1-1, Rafferty 1-0. Goalies: UAlbany, Schneidereith, 7 saves. UAlbany, Halsall, 10 saves.