Picked fifth in the America East preseason coaches' poll, the Seawolves are looking to rebound from an injury-riddled 2011 campaign and once again set their sights on competing for the conference crown. And if the squad's undefeated spring season (5-0-4 record) is any indication, the team is well on its way to reversing its fortunes for the upcoming year.
"Across the board, this is the deepest team we've had in some time," Ryan said. "The incoming players have really elevated our level of play and have pushed our returners to be better. We have several players at multiple positions that will compete for regular playing time due to the level of talent on this team."
The attacking unit should be a strength for Stony Brook entering the 2012 campaign. Eight of the Seawolves' top nine scorers return from last season, including senior forward Taryn Schoenbeck (Newark, Del.) who tied for the team lead with three goals in 2011. Schoenbeck has seven goals and six assists (20 points) in her collegiate career and has scored at least three goals in each of the past two seasons.
The lineup will also be bolstered by the return of senior Colleen McKenna (Manorville, N.Y.), who will rejoin the team after missing last season due to injury, and junior Larissa Nysch (Dresher, Pa.) who led the squad with two assists last year. Returning letterwinners Eliza Mendoza (Fontana, Calif.), Queli Ornelas (Palm Harbor, Fla.) and Megan Rea (East Haven, Conn.) will also push for time up front in addition to providing depth and experience to the unit.
The Seawolves' midfield will feature a talented blend of returning players and an infusion of new talent in 2012. Senior captain Sa'sha Kershaw (Baltimore, Md.), a second-team All-America East selection in 2011, will be one of the key cogs in Stony Brook's lineup once again after tying for the team lead with seven points last year. Sophomore Regan Bosnyak (West Hartford, Conn.) also returns and will pull the strings in the heart of the midfield. An All-Rookie selection in 2011, Bosnyak started 16 games as a freshman and recorded two goals.
Returners Shannon Grogan (Eastampton, N.J.) and Ericka Garufi (Milton, Mass.) will add additional experience and depth to the attacking midfield positions. Grogan appeared in 16 games in 2011 and registered one assist, while Garufi saw action in 12 matches and posted two shots on goal.
Freshman Tessa Devereaux (Fayetteville, N.Y.) will look to make an immediate impact on the starting lineup after a stellar career at Jamesville-DeWitt High School. Devereaux set the school's all-time scoring record with 103 goals and 42 assists in her career and was ranked the fifth-best high school talent in the state of New York by TopDrawerSoccer.com.
Fellow freshmen Lexi Clarke (Round Hill, Va.), Kristen Baker (Easley, S.C.) and Emily Murrer (Aptos, Calif.) will also bring their talents to the pitch in 2012. A terrific distributor, Clarke finished third in the state as a senior with 18 assists, while Baker and Murrer lend versatile presences with their ability to play in both attacking and defensive roles.
Stony Brook's defense boasts four returning letterwinners and three newcomers. In central defense, the Seawolves will be in good hands with juniors Ahriel Fernandez (East Haven, Conn.) and Julianne Palm (Stilwell, Kansas), who each started all 17 games last year. Junior Caitlin Pfeiffer (Holland, N.Y.) and sophomore Christina Casamassina (Farmingville, N.Y.) lend versatile presences to the outside back slots with the skill to push forward in support of the attack and also cover the wings defensively.
The backline will also be strenghtened by the addition of freshmen Meagan Hallworth (Simsbury, Conn.), Stella Norman (Castle Rock, Colo.) and Priscilla Wiggins (Princeton, N.J.). Hallworth will compete for time in central defense after captaining East Greenwich High School to the semifinals of the state championship as a senior. Norman helped guide Arapahoe High School to a second-place finish at the state championship as a sophomore, while Wiggins excelled at The George School as a multi-sport athlete.
The Seawolves will have great depth in net this year with three talented keepers competing for regular time. Junior Ashley Castanio (Oceanside, N.Y.) and sophomore Allyson Lambros (La Habra, Calif.) each saw action in two matches last year; Castanio led the team with a 1.69 GAA in 160 minutes of play.
Newcomer Danielle Singson (Deer Park, N.Y.) joins the team from Rider University where she started 19 games as a freshman and posted a 1.13 GAA. Singson posted an 8-5-2 record and was named MAAC Rookie of the Week three times for the Broncs.
Highlighted by four contests against teams in the RPI top 100 from last year, the Seawolves will play nine matches at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium and will take on two teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 2011 (Boston University and Army).
Four of the Seawolves' first five matches will be on the road, starting Friday at Rhode Island at 7 p.m. Stony Brook's home opener will be two days later against Temple, a Sunday afternoon affair with a 2 p.m. start time.
The Seawolves will then close out the month of August with road matches at Wagner on the 24th, St. John's on the 26th and defending Patriot League champion Army on the 31st.
Five of the team's seven September contests will be played at home, beginning with a duel against Yale on Sunday the 2nd at 2 p.m. A matchup against Big East foe Rutgers follows on Sept. 7, before the team opens a season-long, three-game homestand against Manhattan (9/14), Lehigh (9/16) and Loyola Md. (9/21).
Stony Brook's eight-game America East slate will commence on Sept. 27 with a road game against SUNY rival Albany, while the conference home-opener is set for Sept. 30 vs. Binghamton. The Seawolves will also face Vermont (10/4), Maine (10/11) and Hartford (10/21) at LaValle Stadium and will travel to defending conference champion Boston University (10/7), UMBC (10/14) and New Hampshire (10/18).
"We are very excited about our non-conference schedule," Ryan explained. "We're going to face some well-balanced competition with three teams in the RPI top 100 and two teams that went to the NCAA Tournament last year. It's always exciting playing against local rivals like St. John's and Rutgers from the Big East Conference. We believe the Northeast Region is stacked and this schedule will prepare us well for the rigors of the America East."