March 3, 2012

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Stony Brook Makes Statement, Upsets No. 20 Johns Hopkins

By Clare Lochary | LaxMagazine.com | Related: Live Blog Replay

After 59:51 minutes, 64 fouls, 28 goals, eight yellow cards, eight ties, five lead changes and four goalies, Saturday's game between Stony Brook and No. 20 Johns Hopkins came down to one shot.

Seawolves junior attacker Claire Petersen had a free position on the left hash with the score tied in the final minute. Petersen charged off the hash, threw a fake and scored to put Stony Brook up 15-14 with just nine seconds to play. It was enough to seal Stony Brook's first-ever win over a ranked opponent.

"We were all composed the whole entire game. We were just going play by play and making the most out of every single possession," said Petersen, who finished with six goals and three assists. "All the talk, all the write-ups from everyone all over the country saying we can't do it, we're not the better team, just motivates us more, especially me personally."

The victory was hugely symbolic for first-year coach Joe Spallina and his team. Stony Brook, which has not had a winning season since 2008, entered the game with a 4-0 record, all versus unranked teams. Spallina, a three-time NCAA champion at Division II Adelphi, wanted a signature win to announce the Seawolves' presence on the national scene.

"They showed a lot of character, heart and lacrosse IQ," said Spallina. "We care. It's personal. And when it's personal, it means more."

The game-winner came at the end of a long possession for the Seawolves, who called a time out at 2:42, and then passed around for more than a minute looking for the final shot of the game. The Blue Jays' defense did not challenge the ball until the Seawolves entered the critical scoring area. The initial set-up was an invert with midfielders Demmianne Cook (three goals) and Janine Hillier (two goals) behind the cage, who drew defenders and freed up Petersen on top. When Petersen got possession, Hopkins senior midfielder Cami Kramer committed a shooting space violation and Petersen was awarded the free position.

"Claire always has the green light from me," said Spallina, who coached Petersen at Adelphi before she followed him to Stony Brook. "She's been doing it for years. I said to her after the game there's nobody whose stick I'd rather put the ball in, in that situation, than her."

The final slow-down play was the antithesis of rest of the rollicking back-and-forth game at Homewood Field. Stony Brook struck first when Petersen assisted sophomore attacker Alyssa Cardillo just 51 seconds into the game. But Johns Hopkins responded with a three-goal run to take a 3-1 lead at 24:27. The Seawolves struck back with two goals in twelve seconds apart to tie the game at 3-3 at 24:01. The teams went back and forth for the rest of the period, with Johns Hopkins pulling slightly ahead with a 10-8 halftime lead. Blue Jay freshman goalie KC Emerson (nine saves) entered the game midway through the first half and made three saves in the final six minutes to preserve Hopkins' lead.

"I went into the locker room at halftime, and to be honest with you, I think we were a little shell-shocked, a little wide-eyed," said Spallina.

In the second half, the pace slowed slightly. Stony Brook put a face guard on Hopkins midfielder Taylor D'Amore in the second half to disrupt the Blue Jays' offense. D'Amore finished with two goals and four assists, but all of her points came in the first half. Senior midfielder Candace Rossi led Hopkins with three goals and four assists. With D'Amore neutralized, the Seawolves were able to score the first three points of the half, and eventually tied the game at 14-14 with 4:19 to play on a Hillier goal.

Hopkins won the final draw after a foul by Stony Brook freshman midfielder Amber Kupres (two goals). Spallina objected to the call and threw his sunglasses on the field in protest. The umpires nevertheless awarded the ball to the Blue Jays, but a turnover gave the Seawolves the possession that ended in Petersen's game winner.

With a win over a ranked team, Stony Brook is now 5-0, and got the win despite starting goalie Frankie Caridi (one save) leaving the game with a knee injury 10 minutes into the first half. Junior goalie Hannah Perruchio (two saves) finished the game. Johns Hopkins falls to 3-2.

"It's great for us to really overcome a lot of the adversity – down two goals, down three goals, losing your starting goalie, a lot of emotional things where your average kids would run and hide," said Spallina. "To convince kids you can do it, it's special."


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