Midfielder Kyla Zapolski in the UMBC game on April 23. The Seawolves won their 10th game in a row of the season, and they won their Senior Night game. KAT PROCACCI/THE STATESMAN

The No. 6 Stony Brook women’s lacrosse team entered Saturday night’s matchup against the UMBC Retrievers with two priorities in mind — extending its winning streak to 10 games while also bringing home a victory on Senior Night.

The Seawolves completed both of these tasks by a long shot.

On an emotional night filled with festivities, the Seawolves (12-2, 5-0 AE) put up a 20-spot against the UMBC Retrievers (7-8, 1-4 AE). Ten Seawolves recorded a goal on Saturday, April 23 to secure a 20-8 victory in Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium.

“We got a nice lead to start which gave us a cushion throughout the game as we got our lineup going,” head coach Joe Spallina said in an interview with The Statesman. “We played [against] a talented group. UMBC can score goals, they have a good offense. So, for us it was about playing quality defense like we’ve been doing all year and [sharing] the ball.”

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On a night meant to display the accomplishments of Stony Brook’s departing class, midfielder Ellie Masera instead stole the spotlight on the scorecard. The sophomore, who was recently named a Tewaaraton Award nominee, recorded a career-high four assists and eight points in the victory. Her eight points were the most scored by any Seawolf in a single game in 2022.

“We love our seniors so much,” Masera said. “Everyone played with their heart on their sleeves and put their heart into this game. That was what really contributed to our win.”

Alongside Masera in the starting lineup were a number of departing seniors and graduate students who were honored in the pregame ceremonies. Saturday’s starters included attackers Jesse Arline, Kelly George and midfielder Kyla Zapolski.

Zapolski started Stony Brook’s offensive barrage with a free-position goal just 40 seconds into the game. George and Arline followed closely behind with a pair of goals to give the Seawolves an immediate three-point lead. By the end of the first quarter, the two attackers each had two goals. Arline now sits at six goals in 2022. George’s goals were her second and third of the year.

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“We had a different starting lineup than we’ve had down the stretch, but those players killed it,” Spallina said. “I was super proud of that group.”

Not all scorers in Saturday’s game were used to taking the field. Of the 10 Seawolves to record a goal, four of them were backup players. Still, Stony Brook jumped out to an early lead and was dominant throughout.

Midfielder Rayna Sabella, who was kept quiet throughout the first half, was another departing graduate student that rose to the occasion. She tallied her first goal of the night and 20th of the season in the third quarter after receiving a pass from senior midfielder Sarah Pulis. Sabella rifled another shot into the net in the fourth quarter while also causing two turnovers along the way.

“The ability to start our seniors, go out there and still make a statement from the beginning is super special,” Sabella said.

There was no turning back for Sabella and the Seawolves. Her third-quarter goal gave Stony Brook a 15-4 lead. However, the game took an aggressive turn as UMBC’s deficit continued to grow.

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With emotions running high for both teams, things got heated in the second half. Both UMBC and Stony Brook were on the receiving end of many hard contact plays. Things escalated when midfielder Charlotte Verhulst, a junior who scored her second goal of the season earlier in the game, reached her stick out and slashed at a UMBC player. A foul was called on Verhulst, and she was issued a yellow card.

Following the play, which happened just inches away from Stony Brook’s sideline, a few UMBC players confronted Verhulst. Within seconds, players from both teams amassed around Verhulst and the sidelines rushed onto the field.

“What happened was early in the game, [the Retrievers] were taking liberties,” Spallina said. “The game was physical. There were cards handed out and there were a lot of things that happened beyond that one specific thing.”

The Seawolves quickly backed up Verhulst and were able to avoid any further confrontations with UMBC.

There were probably a number of factors at play when the Retrievers decided to exchange words with Stony Brook. Besides the competitive drive to beat a 12-2 team on its senior night, it is safe to say that losing by such a large margin on the road was not an ideal scenario for the Retrievers during an important time in their season.

“You have two teams competing,” Spallina said. “You have UMBC playing for their postseason life trying to make the America East tournament. For us, it’s all about the NCAA Tournament.”

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While Stony Brook’s hopes to land a spot in the NCAA Tournament as an at-large continue to grow stronger with every win, UMBC sits at fifth place in the America East. With one game left and a 1-4 conference record, the Retrievers’ playoff hopes are dwindling.

Regardless of the intense physicality of the second half, Stony Brook continued to dominate UMBC by the final horn. Sabella’s second and final goal of the day gave the Seawolves their third 20-goal game of the season.

“We would have gone up 6-0 whether we went with our first group or whether we went with our all-senior group,” Spallina said when reflecting on his team’s early offensive success. “Those kids can all play. They are great players and great kids. I was proud of the way we took care of business.”

The Seawolves will head to New Haven on Monday to face No. 25 Yale before wrapping up the regular season in Albany on Saturday, April 30.

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