USC loss to Stony Brook muddied by unforced turnovers

The Trojans fall to 14-16 in games played in the Eastern Time Zone.

STONY BROOK, N.Y. — Graduate attacker Taryn Ohlmiller matched her career-high six goals as No. 5 Stony Brook took no mercy on No. 15 USC, stomping on the Trojans in a 15-3 victory at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium Tuesday.

The Trojans drop to 1-5 in six all-time meetings with the Seawolves, with the 12-point loss being the largest deficit. Of teams USC has faced more than once, Stony Brook is one of five teams — Boston College, Massachusetts, Northwestern and Princeton — with a winning record over the Trojans.

Stony Brook opened the game with four straight goals and wouldn’t look back. Alongside Ohlmiller, graduate midfielder Ally Kennedy added three goals and graduate midfielder Kaeli Huff two.

The matchup pitted Kaeli Huff — who transferred from USC to Stony Brook to use her final year of NCAA eligibility — against her sister, senior midfielder Kelsey Huff, for the first time ever. Despite knowing Kaeli’s game well, USC head coach Lindsay Munday scouted her former player how she would anyone.

“Kaeli’s a great player and someone to look out for who really does it all for them on offense, on defense, in the midfield,” Munday said. “She’s a great cutter, great dodger and so you just got to be aware of her upfield.”

In the Huff Bowl, Kaeli added one groundball to her scoring pair, while Kelsey met net once for the Trojans and had two turnovers. The Trojan captain scored the only goal of the second half for USC.

The Stony Brook matchup comes just six days after USC amended its schedule. The Trojans were originally slated to take on New Hampshire on Feb. 24 until the Wildcats had to pause program activity for COVID-19 protocols. USC replaced the UNH matchup with Stony Brook, giving them less than a week to prepare for a roster of national standouts, headlined by Kennedy and Ohlmiller.

Kennedy wasted no time after the first whistle, coming up with the first draw of the game, leading to a Seawolves goal within the first 40 seconds of play. It would foreshadow the rest of the game, where Kennedy grabbed eight draw controls and five ground balls. Her play helped the Seawolves sink the Trojans into a 10-2 deficit at half, but USC wouldn’t recover. It lost its first game since the 11-10 overtime loss to Denver in the first round of the 2019 NCAA tournament.

With 21 turnovers and inconsistency on the draw circle, USC played most of the game on its own end. “If you’re not winning draw controls, you’re playing defense,” Munday said. The Trojans made a fair number of stops, but the minutes spent on defense were too much to overcome.

Senior goalie Riley Hertford recorded 12 saves on Stony Brook’s 27 shots on goal, but overthrown clears overshadowed her save percentage (44%).

“Riley’s the backbone of the defense,” Munday said. “She made a couple of kind of point-blank saves and really gave us the ability to make some stops, but having unforced turnovers on the clear and in the offensive end, it’s just tough to climb back from, especially against a great team like Stony Brook.”

The Trojans struggled to break the Seawolves’ zone backer defense and find the net, putting up only 15 shots to the Seawolves’ 35. Graduate attacker Izzy McMahon and senior attacker Sophia Donovan scored one apiece to amount to the Trojans’ three goals.

Heading into No. 13 Boston College, Munday’s mindset is the same. “We have to focus on us,” Munday said. “Get back to work and get back to competing and just keep getting better every day.”

The Trojans need to find their groove on the draw circle to control the pace of the game and limit turnovers to maintain possession if they plan to hang with a top-ranked BC team.

The east coast stretch continues Friday at Chestnut Hill.