May 01, 2011|By John Vellante
They know all about the national championship teams of 2003 and 2005, when the Stonehill College women's lacrosse team was the best program in Division 2.
And even though the road ahead is stocked with teams aspiring to the same goal, Sarah Galligan, a junior midfielder from West Newbury, along with sophomores Kayla Green (Londonderry, N.H.) and Heather Sullivan (Andover), are confident that the Skyhawks can make another run at a championship.
Entering yesterday's regular-season finale against LeMoyne, Stonehill was 14-2 and ranked fifth nationally, thanks in large part to the Galligan-Green-Sullivan triumvirate, who had combined for 102 goals and 131 total points.
The team suffered its losses to Northeast-10 Conference rival (and 20-14) Adelphi, the two-time defending national champion that is ranked No. 1, and sixth-ranked (and 13-8) Dowling, of the East Coast Conference.
"Tough losses, but even when we fell far behind, we felt that we could come back,'' said Galligan, the team's third-leading scorer with 49 points (41 goals, 8 assists). The Skyhawks trailed Adelphi, 9-1, before rallying to pull within two goals, 16-14.
"That was encouraging. We played Adelphi to a one-goal loss last year, so obviously we haven't been able to beat them, but we know we can stay with them. Sometimes you learn a lot in defeat, and I think we learned a lot about ourselves. We never quit.
"We all have the same goal, every one of us, and that's to win an NCAA title,'' continued Galligan, the Cape Ann League Player of the Year in 2008 when she was a senior at Pentucket Regional.
"That's what we're focused on. But we know that to do that, we will have to beat a lot of strong teams along the way, and many of those strong teams are right in our conference. We think we'll see Adelphi again somewhere down the line, and we'll see what happens.''
Galligan has been a consistent scorer (108 goals, 35 assists) throughout her career at the college in Easton.
Both Green and Sullivan are coming off sensational freshman seasons and have stepped it up a notch. Last year, Green had 24 goals and five assists; this year she has 31 goals and 12 assists. Sullivan potted 38 goals a year ago and assisted on eight others; this year she has 30 goals and 12 helpers.
Galligan, Green and Sullivan "have all had major impacts on the program since their freshman years,'' said Stonehill coach Katie Conover. "Last year [Galligan] was our leading scorer and really performs well in big games. She plays both sides of the field and is committed. [Green and Sullivan] have been pretty steady throughout. They always seem to get a couple of buckets when we need them most. They're both small, but both very tough players."
Conover, too, was encouraged by the way the Skyhawks came back after being down eight goals to Adelphi.
"Adelphi is stacked, a real good team,'' she said, "and it's pretty obvious the road to an NCAA title will go through Adelphi. We play different styles. We're more settled and Adelphi is run and gun. We understand our strengths and weaknesses. It's exciting to play Adelphi and know we have to play our best to beat them. Coming from so far behind to pull within two goals late in the game was an encouraging sign.''