In a showdown between two of the four highest-ranked teams in the nation, the No. 4 Stony Brook women’s lacrosse team was handed its first loss of the year on Friday.
The Seawolves (4-1) were defeated 13-8 in Illinois by the No. 3 Northwestern Wildcats. Stony Brook’s defense had no answer for Northwestern attacker Izzy Scane, who erupted for eight goals and an assist to carry the Wildcats to a victory. Scane’s performance led Northwestern to outscore Stony Brook in all four quarters and cakewalk to its sixth-straight victory.
The Seawolves jumped out to an early 2-1 lead with 11:33 left in the first quarter, coming off goals from attacker Morgan Mitchell and midfielder Ellie Masera. However, they collapsed from there, turning the ball over on their next three possessions. Northwestern took full advantage of the extra opportunities and scored four unanswered goals to take a commanding 5-2 lead.
With just over a minute left in the opening frame, Masera found the scoreboard again in a man-up situation to cut the deficit down to two goals. Masera continued to carry Stony Brook, scoring two more goals in the second quarter. However, two goals from Scane and one from midfielder Samantha Smith allowed Northwestern to take an 8-5 lead into halftime.
The Seawolves generated several scoring opportunities in the second quarter, but Northwestern goalkeeper Molly Laliberty recorded five saves in the period to keep her team in front.
The third quarter was a defensive battle, with both teams combining for just three goals. Again, Stony Brook struggled to keep possession and turned the ball over six times. Scane scored her sixth goal of the game with just 13 seconds left in the quarter to extend Northwestern’s lead to 10-6.
Needing a comeback to salvage its unbeaten record, the team came out hot in the final quarter. Masera won back-to-back draw controls to begin the frame, the first of which led to a goal from midfielder Charlotte Verhulst. After the second draw, Masera scored her fifth goal of the night through a free-position attempt. Both goals came on man-up opportunities.
After cutting the Seawolves’ deficit down to two goals, Masera secured a third-straight draw control and marched their offense down the field before calling a timeout.
Stony Brook had several opportunities within that possession. Coming off the timeout, Mitchell shot wide of the net. Next, midfielder Jaden Hampel ripped a shot that hit the post. The third time was not the charm for Stony Brook, as Masera turned the ball over in a free-position attempt.
Northwestern regained control of the game following that sequence, scoring twice within the next seven minutes to put the game to bed. With just one second left on the clock, Scane scored her eighth goal of the night to put the final cherry on top.
The Seawolves’ defense fared relatively well with the highest-scoring offense in the NCAA coming into the game. They held the Wildcats to a season-low 13 goals and 25 shots, but Scane had their number. Her eight goals gives her 35 for the season in only five games, which is good for an NCAA-leading 7.00 goals per game.
Each team recorded 20 shots on target, but Northwestern’s goaltending was superior. Goalkeeper Hailey Duchnowksi saved three free-position shots but struggled overall for a second-straight game. She posted just a 35% save percentage, which was significantly lower than Laliberty’s 60% mark.
On the offensive side, the Seawolves missed opportunities. They went 1-for-5 in free-position shots and posted their lowest conversion rate of the season. Masera scored the team’s sole goal in that department and scored five goals for a second consecutive game.
Stony Brook did not share the ball effectively either. Of the team’s eight goals, seven were unassisted. Attacker Jolie Creo recorded the team’s only assist. In addition, the Seawolves struggled on clears, going just 11-for-17.
Head coach Joe Spallina did not speak to the media after the game.
Stony Brook returns to Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium on Saturday for its conference opener. This will mark the program’s first-ever Colonial Athletic Association game. The Seawolves will face the Delaware Blue Hens, who are 4-2 on the season and are coming off an 11-7 loss at the hands of Georgetown. The game is set for 3 p.m. The Blue Hens will match up with Niagara and Denver before facing Stony Brook.