Getting face-guarded is something Wantagh native Claire Petersen says she has gotten used to over the years – to the point where it doesn't really matter to her or to the Stony Brook women's lacrosse team anymore.
"Most games I’ve been face guarded so far, but we have seven strong players on offense so the other six offensive players are able to step up," she said. "I originally was frustrated at times but now we have offensive depth to get open and offensive strength to get around it, so it’s fine."
Here's why her opponents designate a player just to stop her: Petersen, a Wantagh High School graduate who led the Lady Warriors to the girls lacrosse county finals every year she played for them, is a player "who can take a game over," according to Stony Brook head coach Joe Spallina.
"She can beat you in a bunch of different ways. ... She’s somebody that other teams game-plan for," Spallina said. "She’s a dynamic play-maker, and someone that I think has a true mark of a superstar where she truly makes everyone around her better with her playmaking ability."
The senior attacker is a major part of the team, which is currently 11-2 overall and ranked No. 10/11 in national lacrosse polls. Twice this season she has been named America East Offensive Player of the Week and was also named a WomensLAX.com National Player of the Week in March. Peterson has tallied 25 goals and 38 assists in 12 games played, including a career-best 11 assists against Longwood on March 9 – which set a new NCAA record for assists in a single game.
This season, the team's only two losses have come against nationally-ranked Maryland and Florida – experiences which Petersen said the team learned from.
"We learned that you can’t make excuses for having to travel or something not going your way," she said. "You have to pull up your sleeves and fight through."
Before her arrival at Stony Brook, Petersen played two seasons at Adelphi and helped lead the team to Division II championships in 2010 and 2011. She left Adelphi as the Division II leader in career assists with 204; she also scored 104 goals in her two seasons there. She was one of several players who transferred to Stony Brook when athletic director Jim Fiore hired Spallina to coach the women's team in 2011.
Petersen said mental preparation is one of the keys to her own success and the team's success too.
"Before every game, you set individual goals for yourself and goals for your team," she said. "You just come out focused because a lot of the game is being mentally prepared. As long as you work hard, everything else should come along."
And as for those goals, Petersen said the team isn't just going to settle for an America East conference championship.
"Our goal is to get far into the NCAAs and to the Final Four," she said. "We’re going to have to continue to compete with each other to help each other get better."