Kicking off its next quest for a national title, the No. 6 Stony Brook women’s lacrosse team started off on the right foot against another ranked opponent.
The Seawolves (1-0) opened up their 2023 campaign against the No. 17 Michigan Wolverines at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium on Friday. A dominant second quarter for Stony Brook proved to be more than enough to secure a 17-10 victory.
The Seawolves’ offense started the season on a high note, as their 17 goals scored were the team’s most against a ranked opponent since 2020. Head coach Joe Spallina credited the cohesiveness on offense to the experience of his players.
“We have a lot of returning players who are coachable,” Spallina said in a postgame interview with The Statesman. “They can do a lot of different things, they are not one-trick ponies. If you slide early, we’re going to pass. If you slide late, we’re going to score.”
Midfielder Jaden Hampel, who tallied a career-high five goals, was the first Seawolf to score in the game. After Michigan struck first with a free position shot, Hampel responded with two consecutive goals to give Stony Brook a 2-1 lead in the first quarter.
Midfielder Erin MacQuarrie and attacker Kailyn Hart followed Hampel with goals of their own to go up 4-1. With less than a minute in the quarter, Michigan midfielder Jill Smith cut into Stony Brook’s lead with an unassisted goal.
After gaining a 4-2 lead in the first frame, the Seawolves came out firing on all cylinders in the second quarter. The team scored on three of its first four possessions in the period to take a 7-2 lead. Attacker Casey Colbert sparked the scoring streak with the first goal of her collegiate career.
Just 11 seconds later, midfielder Ellie Masera controlled the draw, drove past three defenders and placed a shot in the upper corner of the net.
“Ellie’s the best midfielder in the country,” Spallina said. “She does everything. When you talk about complete players, I put her at the top of that list.”
Hart finished the 3-0 run with her second goal of the night at the 11:31 mark of the quarter.
After Smith snapped Stony Brook’s scoring streak with her second goal of the game, the Seawolves scored another four consecutive goals to crack double digits in the first half. They asserted their dominance on defense in the second quarter, forcing three turnovers and picking up four ground balls while only allowing one goal.
“Defensively, we caused some turnovers and picked up some tough ground balls,” Spallina said. “We were flying around on offense, we started to get into a groove.”
The Seawolves put the game to bed in the third quarter. Smith scored her third goal of the game to cut the lead to 11-4, but Stony Brook responded quickly with four goals over the ensuing three minutes. Hampel scored a pair of goals, followed by attacker Morgan Mitchell. Masera contributed to the beatdown, scoring her fourth goal of the game to increase the lead to 11.
The Wolverines made the final score look better for themselves in the final quarter. They outscored Stony Brook 5-2 and tallied three goals in their last four possessions against goalkeeper Aaliyah Jones, who replaced Hailey Duchnowski for the final 15 minutes of the game.
Duchnowski had a solid debut with Stony Brook. The graduate student saved 44.4% of the shots she faced. She made two big saves in back-to-back possessions in the second quarter, preventing Michigan from getting back into it. One of those saves came on a free position shot.
In front of her, defender Haley Dillon played like her usual self. She led the team with two caused turnovers and was second with two ground balls. Along with her four goals, Masera led both teams in ground balls with three.
Hampel and Hart both totaled six points each. Hart’s four assists equaled her career high.
“That says a lot about who she is and how her game has changed,” Spallina said. “She used to be a pure goal-scorer. Now she brings so many different things to the table. I really like the way she’s evolving.”
Mitchell added two goals while MacQuarrie tallied one goal and two assists. Midfielders Charlotte Verhulst and Alexandra Fusco also scored one goal each.
Stony Brook outshot Michigan 31-18. The Seawolves made life hard for the Wolverines’ goalkeepers, as they only saved 29.2% of the shots on goal that came their way.
Stony Brook will remain home and welcome the Yale Bulldogs on Saturday, Feb. 25. The game is set to begin at noon. The Bulldogs opened their season on Saturday with a 17-6 blowout of Vermont.