In Stony Brook, a lacrosse powerhouse built overlooked recruit

Joe Spalina had just given his speech and handed in his pregame assignment, but before his Stony Brook women’s lacrosse team exited the Loire Room to play Syracuse, who finished fourth in the Career Dome last year, brash head. The coach was stopped.

He looked at his players, virtually every one of them from Long Island, and asked how many of them were recruited by Syracuse, who was one of the powerhouses of college lacrosse. Nobody raised a hand. “Yes,” Spelina told him, “because they don’t think you’re any good.” Simultaneously, he went out.

That is the basis in investigating a motivational hit on which Spalina has built a lacrosse lineage at Stony Brook, a team looking to prove a point. He certainly did so that day, defeating 1766 with the help of four goals from Sybuse, Eli Kennedy, a dynamo midfielder from North Babylon who embodies the world ethos versus Long Island of Spelina.

“He reminds me every day that I was ignored,” said Kennedy, a fifth-year player who was only recruited out of high school. With players like Kennedy, Spalina transformed Stony Brook into a women’s lacrosse bastion in less than a decade, taking a team to a mid-sized university with a graduate enrollment of nearly 17,000 students and calling it one of the best sports. Made one of the programs. The New York region is able to compete with some of the best lacrosse schools in the country.

“You look at the national rankings and there’s a school that sticks out,” Spalina said of her team. “We are not with those schools. We walk into the party and the record closes. We taste it. “

Currently ranked 6th in the nation, the Seawels have won the US East Conference regular season title eight times in a row under Spelina and are heading for their eighth straight conference tournament title this week. The Seaweats have won 52 straight conference games, dating back to 2014, a streak that only wins Oklahoma softball’s 65 consecutive conference wins for the most in any Division I game in the Big 12 that tracks the NCAA.

In recent years, the event has become an event in lacrosse circles, particularly on Long Island. The Sewoms placed second in attendance among women’s lacrosse programs twice in three years and their Instagram post 16,000 is more than double that of any other Stony Brook team, including men’s lacrosse and football.

Stony Brook has also produced some of the game’s biggest stars, such as 2018 graduate Kylie Ohmiller, NCAAA’s Career Leader in Astist (246) and Marks (498); Her younger sister Taryn, a fifth-year bomber whose 37 assists tied for ninth-highest in the country; And Kennedy. All are from Long Island, all were lined up as high school recruits, and all reflect Spelina’s sharp confidence in both themselves and their players.

On game days, Spalina, wearing a crisp tie and jacket, strutted desperately while issuing instructions, but would occasionally pause to laugh at one of her players on the bench.

Once, when Kylie Ohlmiller was doing a rare tough game during her senior year, Spilina called her to the sideline during live action. His defender was standing completely next to him, upon hearing which Spalina told Ohmiller that the defender was not cutting in his normal gait. He explained exactly what he wanted Ohmiller to do, and resulted in more goals.

“He didn’t care that she was listening,” said Ohmiller, who now plays professionally Athlete unlimited And has emerged as the face of women’s lacrosse, but still helps sewts practices from time to time. “I was confident about what I could do. He is a symbol of the work I have done for my career. “

Spalina called the Ohlmillers, Kennedy, and all of the team’s players on the rock star, and noted that they had become role models in the community, demanding autographs at games with schoolgirls from all over the island.

The hometown section of the Civets roster reads like an index of a Long Island atlas: Mount Sinai, Northport, Rockville Center, East Islip, North Babylon and Long Beach. Ninety percent of the roster comes from that lacrosse-rich region, and Spalina calls it self-sufficient.

“We’re all from Long Island and we’re building this entire community of Long Island lacrosse fans, young girls coming to Stony Brook to see women’s lacrosse,” said Kylie Ohmiller.

In 2012, Spalina took over a program that went 63–80 (.441) in her first nine years as Varsity Sport (America formerly 20–33). Since then, Stony Brook has been over 155–29 (and .842) and surprisingly 55–2 in conference play.

To build this regional dynasty, Spalina has mined Long Island for all the gems hidden behind her after crossing the area of ​​traditional power stations. Top teams including No. 3 Syracuse and No. 1 North Carolina also recruit well on Long Island. Each has several Islanders on their roster and the Tar Heels also dropped defender Maddy Hoffer just outside the city of Stony Brook. Maryland also has its share, including a pair of Spielina’s hometown, Rocky Point.

Teams of that kind can often woo premium recruits, while Spalina sees people left behind who crave gritty.

“It’s the kid who takes his bag to the car instead of handing it over to his parents, the kid who says, ‘Thank you, sorry and please,’ the kid who’s eyeballing you. They’re where their feet are.” Not the child who is looking at the mountain and traveling on the mole hill. “

Kylie Ohmiller, who is from ISLIP, said very few other schools recruited her – none of the major powers – and that no one showed as much confidence in her as Spalina. Kennedy said the only major college push for him was from Ohio State.

Some of Spalina’s players were also overlooked on their own high school or travel teams, only to develop later. Spalina followed his desire to show the world how good they could become, as they had to leave the swing due to many taps of internal outrage at big schools.

“I’ll tell them, ‘I’m not trying to make you feel bad, but did North Carolina call you? Did Syracuse call you? No, they didn’t. It’s okay, we’re going to show them What have they missed? ”

Spalina said that Kennedy, whom he calls the country’s best midfielder, had not even started his journey for the team. Many felt that at 5-foot-3, he was too young to play midfield and was not skilled enough for attacking positions. But he has 52 goals this year, which is 245 in his career, which is third in school history.

Spalina’s true feelings about Kennedy are seen through the ID she programmed for him in her smartphone. When Kennedy calls him, the words flash on his screen, “Franchise.”

“He sold me on the dream of playing in a national level team,” Kennedy said.

Spalina, 48, and his wife have five children, all of whom play lacrosse. His oldest son, Joey Spalina, recently committed to Syracuse as the top 2022 recruit in the country. Joe Spalina played both football and lacrosse at Adelphi University and then taught boys lacrosse at Rocky Point High School and took coaching from his alma mater. One day the athletic director there asked him to coach the girls’ team. He initially protested, but the move changed his life.

She also coached the New York men’s Major League lacrosse team for nine years and the women’s team at Adelphi, where she holds a 73–2 record, including three consecutive Division II women’s championships.

The Seaviews entered their conference tournament on Thursday, aiming to reach a Final Four and winning a national title so far is unrealistic. In 2018, Stony Brook was ranked No. 1 in the nation from February until the end of the regular season, but was seeded fifth in the tournament and lost in double overtime to Boston College in the second round.

“We got mid-Majored,” Spalina said. “We don’t pay the same rent that people do, and we screw up.”

The Seawels have made the NCAA Tournament each year on Spalina Stony Brook but once made it to the third round. Until they do, the players will feel a little left out, the way big college programs forced them out of high school.

“It’s that we’ve talked about that chaos for the last 10 years,” Kylie Ohlmiller said at a Seawolves practice last week. “When that happens, I will be here. This is going to be a very proud moment for all of us who have ever had Stoin Brook across our chests.”

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