The No. 10 Stony Brook women’s lacrosse team wrapped up its inaugural regular season in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) in style, locking up the regular season championship over its cross-town rival.
Under the bright lights of Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium, the moment never got too big for the Seawolves (12-3, 7-0 CAA), who captured their 10th-straight regular season title on Friday, dating back to their time in the America East. Stony Brook dominated the Hofstra Pride in the Battle of Long Island and breezed to an 18-6 win behind a career-high nine points from midfielder Ellie Masera. The victory secured the team’s eighth consecutive undefeated season in conference play.
Hofstra drew first blood just 1:40 into the game when attacker Lauren Coletti bounced one past goalkeeper Hailey Duchnowski and into the back of the cage. However, Hofstra’s good start was no indicator of how the game was going to go.
Over the rest of the first quarter, Stony Brook dominated possession and constantly pushed the envelope on Hofstra’s defense. The Seawolves ended the quarter on a 5-1 run, which was carried by an early hat trick from Masera. After midfielder Jaden Hampel and attacker Kailyn Hart each scored goals to take the lead, Masera put her foot on the Pride’s throats and scored Stony Brook’s next three goals to take a 5-2 lead into the second quarter.
Stony Brook’s momentum carried into the second quarter, where it hardly lost possession of the ball. Carried by the efforts of Masera and midfielder Charlotte Verhulst, the Seawolves controlled all nine draws in the quarter and took up residence in Hofstra’s zone. They scored each of the first four goals of the quarter to take a 9-2 lead, with Verhulst and attacker Morgan Mitchell getting in on the scoring fun.
Hofstra finally snapped Stony Brook’s run of six unanswered goals when attacker Chloe Sedlar scored on Duchnowski with 4:49 remaining in the first half. Hart answered with her second goal of the night, but Coletti did the same to cut back into Stony Brook’s lead. With less than half a minute to play, Hart responded again to complete a hat trick, putting the Seawolves up 11-4.
Stony Brook did not stop there. After defender Clare Levy controlled the ensuing draw, Masera pushed the ball up the field and swung it over to her left and found Mitchell. While dodging defenders on her way towards the net, Mitchell passed the ball to attacker Jolie Creo to set up a give-and-go play. Heavily pressed by the defender, Creo dumped it off to Mitchell in stride, who then rifled a shot past Hofstra goalkeeper Luchianna Cardello for a last-second goal.
Head coach Joe Spallina attributed Stony Brook’s eight-goal lead by halftime to its success in the draw circle.
“It was make it, take it,” Spallina said in a postgame interview with The Statesman. “It’s one of the great things about lacrosse. If you’re getting the draws, you score, it goes back to the draw circle, and you get it back on offense.”
Stony Brook’s defense got even stronger after the break. The Seawolves allowed only two goals in the second half: one in the third quarter and one in the fourth. Hofstra turned the ball over seven times after halftime, six of which were turnovers caused by Seawolf defenders.
The second half began like the first: Hofstra scored first and Stony Brook answered with a barrage of goals. After Sedlar scored for the second time, the Seawolves scored four unanswered goals to take a 16-5 lead into the fourth quarter.
Hofstra attacker Taylor Mennella scored a garbage-time goal to kick off the final frame, but Hart and Masera both tacked on a goal each to put the finishing touches on the blowout.
Masera did it all for Stony Brook in the regular season finale. She finished with five goals and four assists. She also picked up two ground balls and 10 draw controls. She locked up on defense too, causing a career-high five turnovers.
“Something was clicking with me today,” Masera said. “Our whole team was also on point today, and that’s why we were so successful.”
Stony Brook controlled 21 draws, which was 15 more than Hofstra. Both of those totals were season highs. The Seawolves’ 12 caused turnovers was their third-highest total of the year.
Stony Brook attempted 39 shots to the Pride’s 12. It also had the advantage in the ground-ball area, winning the battle 15-11. The Seawolves were perfect on clears, going 14-for-14 while Hofstra only converted on 15 of its 20 attempts.
Hart was the team’s second-leading scorer with four goals, while Mitchell was right behind her with three. Hample and Verhulst both recorded two goals and an assist. Hampel also picked up three ground balls and four draw controls.
Midfielder Alexandra Fusco and attacker Courtney Maclay each scored one goal during the third quarter. Creo’s one assist was the only contribution she made to the scoresheet.
Defender Haley Dillon caused two turnovers. Levy scooped up three ground balls to co-lead the team while also causing one turnover and controlling five draws.
Duchnowski saved only one of the seven shots that she faced. She gave way to her backup Shana Hecht for the final 3:47, who was not challenged.
Sedlar and Coletti each scored two goals off the bench to co-lead the Pride. Attacker Katie Kelly led them with two assists.
Stony Brook has now won 67 consecutive games against conference opponents, which marks the longest active streak in all of NCAA Division I sports. The Seawolves will now turn their focus to the 2023 CAA tournament, where they will look to clinch an automatic bid and advance to the national tournament.
The CAA playoffs will be held at Tiger Field, the home of the Towson Tigers. As the top seed in the tournament, the Seawolves will face off against the fourth seed next Thursday in the opening round. Stony Brook’s opponent is yet to be determined, but it will be either Drexel, Delaware or Monmouth depending on how Saturday’s games go. No matter who the Seawolves are playing, opening draw for game one is set for noon.