2013 #Seawolves women's soccer: season in review

Senior Larissa Nysch led the Seawolves with 11 goals and 27 points in 2013

Nov. 18, 2013

Since the founding of the Stony Brook women's soccer program in 1983, the Seawolves have accomplished many notable feats. Chief among these accomplishments was the team's America East championship run in 2012, which culminated in the program's first-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament.

However, one thing was still missing from the program's 30-year résumé: a regular season conference title. That all changed in 2013 when the Seawolves were crowned America East co-regular season champs.

The regular season title was just one of many highlights. The team made its second straight appearance in the conference final and received numerous accolades along the way. Following the leadership of their senior class, the 2013 Seawolves put forth a season for the ages and raised the bar for years to come.

Part I: The Non-Conference Slate

Stony Brook entered the season with high expecations. Coming off the program's first-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament, the Seawolves were picked second in the America East preseason coaches' poll and came out eager to prove that 2012 was no fluke.

In the season opener against BIG EAST foe Seton Hall, Stony Brook came out firing and took the lead inside of eight minutes when sophomore Stella Norman (Lakewood, Colo.) blasted home the first of her four free-kick goals on the year. Senior Larissa Nysch (Dresher, Pa.) doubled the lead just five minutes later, and while the Pirates eventually battled back to even the game at 2-2, Stony Brook proved early on that it would be a force in the Northeast Region all season long.

The Seawolves opened their home schedule on Aug. 25 against Fairleigh Dickinson. Determined to make LaValle Stadium an impenetrable fortress for opposing teams, Stony Brook rattled off the first of eight straight home wins with a 6-0 rout of the Knights. The Seawolves scored all six goals in the second half, tying a program record, and received several standout individual performances. Sophomore Emily Murrer (Aptos, Calif.) scored her first two collegiate goals, while freshman Maxie New (Clayton, N.J.) and redshirt junior Queli Ornelas (Palm Harbor, Fla.) also opened their collegiate accounts. Norman added three assists to become the first Seawolf to record three helpers in a game since the program joined the America East in 2001.



Stony Brook stretched its unbeaten streak to four games with a pair of victories over Fairfield and NJIT. With a 3-0-1 record to start the year, the Seawolves started turning heads, rising as high as No. 9 in the NSCAA Northeast Region poll. 

After a hard-fought defeat at Yale on Sept. 6, Stony Brook rebounded with two impressive wins over New York rivals Siena and Wagner. Three Seawolves -- Danielle Fuller (Staten Island, N.Y.), Leah Yurko (Cumberland, Md.) and Lindsay Hutchinson (Millersville, Pa.) -- all scored their first collegiate goals in a 3-1 win over the Saints. Stony Brook then waited out a long weather delay to top the Seahawks, 2-1, to move to 5-1-1 on the year.

Awaiting Stony Brook in game No. 8 was its biggest test of the season: Pac 12 power Colorado. The Seawolves kept it close into the late stages as keeper Ashley Castanio (Oceanside, N.Y.) made several big stops, including a penalty kick, but in the end the high-powered Colorado attack proved too much in a 4-0 defeat. 

The Seawolves closed out the non-conference slate against Northern Colorado in the Omni Hotels Women's Soccer Classic in Boulder, Colo. Despite outshooting the Bears, Stony Brook came out on the short end of a 1-0 decision to wrap up the non-conference season with a 5-3-1 record. Nysch and sophomore Priscilla Wiggins (Princeton, N.J.) were rewarded for their strong play in Colorado with spots on the All-Tournament Team.

Part II: America East Play

Coming off a long trip out west, Stony Brook packed its bags once again to open America East play at Vermont on Sept. 29. In a back-and-forth affair, the Seawolves claimed an impressive 2-1 win as Murrer fired home the game-winner in the 76th minute off a feed from Nysch. 

Stony Brook moved to 2-0 in conference play a week later with a 1-0 victory over America East newcomer UMass Lowell. Nysch scored her sixth goal of the season to help the Seawolves to their first 2-0 America East start since 2004.

A rematch with fellow 2012 finalist, Hartford, awaited Stony Brook on Oct. 10. Junior Christina Casamassina (Farmingville, N.Y.) notched her first goal as a Seawolf, but it was not enough in a 3-2 overtime loss.

The Seawolves shook off the defeat and won four of their final five matches to close out the regular season with a 6-2-0 conference record. Two of the victories came against SUNY rivals Albany (4-0) and Binghamton (2-0), but the most impressive win down the stretch came on Oct. 27 at Maine. A strong performance from Castanio helped the team extend the match to overtime, before freshman Elise Pratt (Sicklerville, N.J.) headed home the game winner in double OT to give the Seawolves a 2-1 win and a share of the regular season crown.

Part III: Postseason 

The No. 2 seed in the America East Tournament, Stony Brook faced Maine once again in the America East Semifinals. The story of the match was Castanio, who made a career-high 16 saves through regulation and overtime as the Seawolves and Black Bears battled to a 1-1 draw after 110 minutes. 

With a trip to the conference final on the line, the teams proceeded to a dramatic penalty kick shootout. Castanio again came up big, stopping two shootout attempts as the Seawolves advanced, 3-1, on PK's. 

Making their second straight appearance in the America East title game, Stony Brook matched wits with No. 1 UMBC on the Retrievers' home turf. The match started brightly as Nysch scored her 11th goal of the year to give the Seawolves a 1-0 advantage in the 40th minute off a feed from New. 

But UMBC ultimately battled back and claimed the title with a 2-1 decision that brought the Seawolves season to a close with an 11-6-2 record.

Records, Honors and Awards

• Stony Brook won its first-ever regular season conference title.
• The Seawolves tied for the most conference wins (6) in a season in program history.
• Castanio was named the America East Goalkeeper of the Year.
• Castanio led the conference with 107 saves.
• Castanio, Nysch and Norman were named first-team All-Conference.
• Sophomore Tessa Devereaux (Fayetteville, N.Y.) was named second-team All-Conference.
• New, Yurko and freshman Christina Fluman (Pittsford, N.Y.) were named to the America East All-Rookie Team.
• New, Yurko and Fluman each garnered America East Rookie of the Week accolades during the season.
• Nysch, Castanio and senior Ahriel Fernandez (East Haven, Conn.) were named to the America East All-Tournament Team.
• Nysch's 11 goals were the ninth most in a single season in program history.
• Nysch finished the year as the America East's leading scorer with 11 goals, five assists and 27 points.
• Nysch finished her career with 22 goals (6th most in program history) and 56 points (6th most in program history).
• Norman led all America East defenders with five goals and 16 points. 
• Norman became the first Seawolf to record three assists in one game (vs. FDU) since the program moved to the America East in 2001. 
• Castanio's 1.12 GAA was the seventh-best mark in a single season in program history.
• Stony Brook tied a program record with six goals in one half against FDU on Aug. 25.
• The Seawolves also tied a record with 19 total points (6 goals, 7 assists) in the same half vs. FDU.
• Stony Brook finished with an 8-1-1 record at LaValle Stadium.
• The Seawolves were ranked in the NSCAA Northeast Region poll for six weeks of the season.
• Stony Brook posted five shutouts and held opponents to one goal or less in 14 of its 19 games. 
• Thirteen different players scored goals during the season.
• Stony Brook led the America East in shots (311), points (108), goals (36) and assists (36). 
• Nysch, Norman, Devereaux, Fuller, Wiggins and Castanio each started all 19 games.