Point 1: Baseball has to be cautious, even though it is rolling through the America East.
There is Stony Brook, and then there is the rest of the America East Conference as far as the baseball regular-season race is concerned.
The Seawolves currently have a four-game lead over the UMass Lowell River Hawks and have already taken two of three games from the second-year Division I team.
In fact, Stony Brook has only lost two America East games all season, holding a 12-2 record after the weekend sweep of Albany. But the Seawolves have done this before.
The Seawolves lost only five conference games last season and ended up blowing a golden opportunity to go back to the NCAA Tournament by losing back-to-back games to the Binghamton Bearcats.
In 2011, Stony Brook only lost two conference games all year but was defeated by Albany in an elimination game despite the Seawolves coming in as the top seed. So, as Stony Brook enters the final three weeks of the season riding high, it would be wise to be cautious.
If the Seawolves want to make the NCAA Tournament, they should make sure history does not repeat itself.
-By Cameron Boon, Assistant Sports Editor
Point 2: Softball has a plethora of dominant pitchers.
Any successful softball team needs at least one ace pitcher to be a title contender. This is someone that can carry the team to victory in any given game and is capable of thriving in big games.
Stony Brook has two such pitchers in senior Allison Cukrov and junior Jane Sallen. Both have been spectacular for the Seawolves in 2015. Both are top ten in the America East in strikeouts, ERA, wins and innings pitched. This combination has provided a perfect 1-2 punch to propel the Seawolves into first place.
Sallen, who has started 21 of the Seawolves’ 37 games, is arguably the most-improved player on the team. She has already surpassed her 2014 totals for starts, wins, innings and strikeouts this season. Without this exponential improvement, the Seawolves would likely be an afterthought in the America East.
Although Cukrov struggled early in the season, the two-time conference Pitcher of the Year appears to have regained her form as of late. She won America East Pitcher of the Week two weeks ago and recorded a near-perfect game last week.
The only hit she allowed was a leadoff single. Cukrov is finding her stride at just the right time, with the conference tournament just two weeks away.
Should the Seawolves face an elimination game, Head Coach Megan Bryant will have quite the dilemma deciding who will pitch. Although this may be a difficult decision to make, it is a good dilemma to have.
-By Chris Gaine, Staff Writer
Point 3: Men’s lacrosse needs to limit scoring in bunches.
Men’s lacrosse has one of the most efficient offenses in NCAA Division I, led by senior attackman Mike Rooney and junior attackman Brody Eastwood. The Seawolves currently have the second-most goals in the country (225) and are sixth in goals per game (14.06). The group has the offensive prowess to make a deep postseason run, but the Seawolves need to limit the scoring surges they have proven to be prone to.
The squad’s first loss came at the hands of a currently-No. 50 St. John’s team, after the Red Storm scored nine of the game’s last ten goals. In the Seawolves’ third loss to a then-No. 4 Duke team, Stony Brook’s defense let up an eight-goal run in the first half.
Although the team rebounded and hung tough to an end score of 17-11, the hole dug was far too great for the defense to climb out of. Stony Brook came out on top in Friday’s game against Hartford, but not before being down 8-4 at the half for the second time this season.
Freshman midfielder Matt Robison would go on to score the overtime winning goal, but it will be a much greater challenge to come back from a halftime deficit against the more talented teams the Seawolves will face in the postseason, which the game against Duke highlighted.
Stony Brook is tied with Lehigh for the 32nd-best goals per game ratio at 10.06. If the team is going to make it far in the postseason, the defense needs to tighten up and play consistently throughout the whole game.
-By Chris Peraino, Staff Writer
Point 4: Controlling ground balls is imperative for women’s lacrosse.
In lacrosse, possession is crucial. Unlike sports like football and baseball where there is equal opportunity with possession, lacrosse relies on draw controls and ground balls to determine possession.
Faceoffs and ground balls are designed to be 50-50 opportunities for each team, but the No. 5 Stony Brook women’s lacrosse team has used its speed and hustling ability to secure possession on much greater than 50 percent of these loose balls.
The Seawolves have won 52.4 percent of draws this season, winning 16 more draw controls total this season than they have lost. They have grabbed 55.6 percent of loose ground balls this season, or 51 more ground balls total than their opponents.
Stony Brook, on average, earns four more possessions for itself over its opponents each game. For an offense as prolific as Stony Brook’s, its opponents are basically spotting them two goals.
Looking ahead to a probable rematch with Albany for the America East championship, the Great Danes are even better at winning ground balls, securing 57.2 percent this season.
In a high-intensity rivalry game, ground balls will certainly be an aspect of the game to keep an eye on.
-By Skyler Gilbert, Staff Writer