When Carolyn Carrera began playing lacrosse as a kid, there was no varsity program at Riverhead that she could aspire to play on one day. She would often play with boys because the sport had yet to take off for girls in the area.
When she reached seventh grade, Riverhead started its first JV team. Two years later, she was part of the inaugural varsity team during her freshman year.
She never would have imagine at the time just how far she would go in the game. This past season, she started every game on defense for Stony Brook University on the top-ranked team in the country. In her senior season, she helped anchor one of the top defenses in the country while leading her team into the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division I Championship.
“Being on the No. 1 ranked team in the country wasn’t really always a dream or realization until I came to Stony Brook,” she said. “It was amazing to be a part of.”
When the Division I lacrosse playoffs unfolded in May, women from East End schools represented several of the top teams in the nation. And a few even got the chance to play in the Final Four as close to home as possible at Stony Brook University.
Lauren Daly, a Shoreham-Wading River graduate, started in goal for Boston College in the championship game against James Madison. Boston College lost 16-15. Katie Hoeg, a Mattituck graduate, started 19 games for the University of North Carolina, which reached the Final Four before losing to James Madison, 15-12.
At Stony Brook, Carrera was joined by fellow Riverhead graduate Courtney Troyan and Shoreham-Wading River graduate Jesse Arline.
“Having two of us now from Riverhead on the Stony Brook team and how far we made it and what we accomplished was pretty awesome,” Carrera said.
Carrera and Troyan, who just finished her sophomore season, both played in a Riverhead lacrosse alumni game this past weekend.
“It was a lot of fun,” Carrera said. “The more we can grow the sport, the more we can get people involved, I think it’s a great thing. It was definitely special being able to have Courtney and play with her again.”
Troyan, a midfielder, appeared in eight games. Arline, a freshman attack, appeared in 10 games.
Stony Brook posted its best season in program history with a 20-1 record. The Seawolves defeated eight ranked teams. The team had been ranked No. 1 in the country but was seeded fifth in the NCAA Tournament as teams from larger conferences were viewed more favorably. Stony Brook defeated No. 14 Penn in its first game before losing in overtime to Boston College, 12-11, on May 19. The Seawolves had their sights set on playing in the Final Four in their home stadium, but Boston College ended that dream.
“This was a dream we always wanted and we were going to work as hard as we could to get there,” Carrera said. “It didn’t end up happening, but I think all of us can say the journey was amazing and we worked as hard as we could.”
That journey was cut short partly due to the effort of Daly, who made a critical save in the final seconds of regulation to send the game into overtime. Daly, who helped lead Shoreham to the 2012 state championship, made seven saves in the semifinal win over Maryland. She stopped six shots in the championship game. She’ll be entering her senior year this fall.
Carrera, who graduated Riverhead in 2013, originally attended Hofstra before transferring to Stony Brook for her final two years. Last November, Carrera was drafted into the United Women’s Lacrosse League as a member of the Philadelphia Force. She began playing with the Force shortly after the college season wrapped up while also beginning an internship to start her career after graduating with a degree in civil engineering.
“I’m really excited for all the opportunities,” she said. “There are a lot of opportunities in the engineering field and it’s really cool because I can continue to play lacrosse now. I’m playing at the professional level, which is just a gift.”
After playing midfield throughout her high school career, Carrera switched to defense in college and continues to play the position at the professional level. She joked that she tried to take a few opportunities to get a goal this past season at Stony Brook but didn’t actually score.
“I definitely tried,” she said. “It’s just funny because I used to be a midfielder. And then when you got to college, I’m willing to play whatever role the team needs me to play. I actually have really grown to love defense and being in that role.”
Photo caption: Carolyn Carrera pictured in a 2017 game for Stony Brook. (Credit: Stony Brook Athletics)
College: Stony Brook
High School: SWR (’17)
2018 Season: Arline appeared in 10 games, scoring a pair of goals with two assists during her rookie season with the Seawolves.
College: Stony Brook
High School: Riverhead (’13)
2018 Season: Carrera started 21 games on defense, anchoring the top unit in the country during her senior season.
College: Boston College
High School: SWR (’15)
High School: Mattituck (’16)
College: Stony Brook
High School: Riverhead (’16)
2018 Season: Troyan saw time in eight games, scoring one goal with an assist in her second season with the Seawolves.