Midfielder Ellie Masera in the game against Dartmouth on Feb. 27. Masera made a behind-the-back goal and a free position goal in the game against Northwestern. KAT PROCACCI/THE STATESMAN

Playing its second consecutive road game against a nationally ranked opponent, the No. 6 Stony Brook women’s lacrosse team had a chance to earn back-to-back statement wins in its pursuit of an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

The trip to Evanston, Illinois proved daunting as the Seawolves fell 16-12 to the No. 5 Northwestern Wildcats on Thursday, March 10 in a game where they never led.

Stony Brook (2-2) has played three highly-ranked opponents to start its season, losing by one goal to No. 3 Syracuse and withstanding a late rally to squeak past No. 12 Florida by one. However, the contest against Northwestern (5-2) was not nearly as competitive as the Wildcats raced out to an early lead and never looked back.

The Wildcats’ ball movement was something to admire on Thursday, as 12 of their 16 goals were assisted and three of the remaining four came on free position shots. Led by attacker Erin Coykendall’s nine points off four goals and five assists, Northwestern held a seven-goal advantage with nine minutes left in the game and quelled any momentum for a second-half Stony Brook comeback.

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Northwestern did so with attacker Lauren Gilbert, tied for the sixth-most goals in the country, not finding the scoreboard, although she did record four assists. 

Stony Brook was held scoreless for the first 12 minutes of the game until midfielder Siobhan Rafferty cut the deficit to 3-1 on a man-up opportunity. Before the end of the first quarter, midfielder Ellie Masera’s rapid-fire behind-the-back goal made it 4-2, and she added a free position goal to make it a one-score game early in the second.

Then, Northwestern pulled away, pouring on five in a row to go up 9-3. Starting goalkeeper Charlie Campbell was yanked from the game after halftime having recorded just two saves for a .182 save percentage despite entering with a .451 rate on the season. Kameron Halsall, who started 22 straight games at goalie for Stony Brook in the two seasons prior, took over in the cage for the second half, allowing seven goals against three saves.

Masera assisted midfielder Rayna Sabella for the opening score of the second half, cutting Stony Brook’s deficit to four goals. Northwestern immediately dealt a devastating blow to the Seawolves’ spirits by racking up three straight goals in three minutes, including a pair in 24 seconds, to open up its largest lead of the night.

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The Seawolves scored four of the game’s last five goals to make the final score look more competitive, but the outcome appeared long predestined with the clock running against them. There was not enough time to crawl back from the gap that Northwestern dug them into. In the first three quarters, the Wildcats dominated draw controls 16-6 against the Seawolves, a key factor in their victory.

Masera led the way for Stony Brook with five goals and Sabella also had a hat trick. 

The Seawolves face their third-straight ranked opponent on Sunday when No. 16 Johns Hopkins comes to Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium at 12 p.m.

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