For the first time in program history, the No. 5 Stony Brook women’s lacrosse team faced the Arizona State Sun Devils. The Seawolves didn’t disappoint.
Stony Brook (8-2) quickly ran away with a 16-4 blowout win on Friday, April 1. Midfielder Ellie Masera led the way with five goals and 11 draw controls at the X. Attacker Kailyn Hart and midfielder Siobhan Rafferty each secured a hat trick as well.
The Seawolves have now won six games in a row, holding their opponents to just five points per game during the streak. They recorded a season-high 11 assists and continue to lead the America East in assists per game (8.1) and points per game (22.7).
“This is the formula for us right now — playing great defense, getting great goaltending and being smart and efficient offensively,” head coach Joe Spallina said in an interview with The Statesman.
The Sun Devils (4-6) brought a familiar face to Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium: former All-American midfielder Dorrien Van Dyke. Van Dyke, now serving as Arizona State’s assistant head coach, spent four years (2014-17) under the guidance of Spallina.
The game got off to an interesting start when Arizona State goalkeeper Katie Vahle took matters into her own hands. After saving a shot by Hart, Vahle dashed out of the cage and cleared the ball for Arizona State’s first possession of the night.
After Vahle passed the ball off to her attackers and retreated back to the cage, goalkeeper Kameron Halsall answered with her first save of the night. Halsall played the full 60 minutes and secured six saves over 12 shots on goal by the Sun Devils.
Admittedly, the Seawolves took a while to get going against the Sun Devils, but it was clear they weren’t fazed by Vahle’s unique play style.
“[Arizona State] brought a lot of intensity early in the game,” Spallina said. “We were a little rattled. I didn’t want to call timeout. I wanted to see how they would handle adversity and handle the situation and I thought they did a good job of getting through. Once we got that first goal, it calmed us down.”
It took Stony Brook eight minutes to get that first goal. But once they found their way onto the scoreboard, the floodgates were wide open. Hart rifled a shot into the back of the net for the team’s first point of the game and her 22nd goal of 2022. Midfielders Kyla Zapolski and Rayna Sabella added two more goals to give Stony Brook an early 3-0 lead.
Arizona State decreased the deficit to two points by the end of the first quarter and got within one point at the start of the second quarter. But the Seawolves answered back with a 5-0 run to end the first half.
When Masera finds a groove, the entire team finds a groove. After being kept off the scorecard in the first quarter, the sophomore drew a free position shot after taking on three defenders within the eight-meter arc. She made Arizona State pay with her 31st goal of the season.
Ten minutes after her first goal, Masera secured her eighth hat trick out of 10 games played in 2022. Sabella and Hart piled on to extend Stony Brook’s lead to five points by halftime.
“The point of emphasis in practice has been moving the ball well,” Rafferty said. “Our cuts were open and our attackers did a great job of feeding.”
Rafferty got the job done on both ends of the field. On the scoring end, she added her first goal of the day to open the third quarter. She later secured her second-straight hat trick and fourth of the season in the final quarter. Defensively, she picked up three ground balls and caused a team-high two turnovers.
Arizona State surrendered 20 turnovers in total, eight of which were caused by the Seawolves.
“We’re always working together and making each other better,” Hart said. “We’re always able to pick off those key passes. Siobhan had a great defensive game today and that says a lot about our defense. We’re a unit, and we get those key turnovers.”
Stony Brook’s offense was relentless in the second half. Feeding off of Rafferty’s shots, attacker Morgan Mitchell cashed in during the third quarter with her third goal of the season.
From there, the game was far out of reach for Arizona State. Masera and Hart capped off the scoring in the fourth quarter with a pair of goals to extend the lead to 16-3. They finished the game with a combined 12 points and three assists.
“At the end of the day, you chip away at the scoreboard and you’re able to score 16 points a game,” Spallina said. “Our defense was really the key here. Early on, when our offense was trying to find itself, we had some key stops and great saves. I’m proud of our kids.”
The Seawolves’ next scheduled game at Binghamton on Sunday, April 3 was abruptly postponed a day before.