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No. 6 Stony Brook women’s lax dominates in conference opener

Midfielder Ellie Masera running with the ball in her stick in the Vermont game on March 26. Masera scored four goals against Vermont. CAMRON WANG/THE STATESMAN

The Stony Brook women’s lacrosse team has been unstoppable as of late. 

Ever since they were topped by No. 5 Northwestern on March 10, the No. 6 Seawolves have shown no signs of dwelling on the past. Stony Brook’s last three games have all been blowouts, as the Seawolves have outscored their opponents 43-14 in the three-game stretch.

Returning home after a road trip to Brown, Stony Brook (6-2) repeated its offensive success with yet another blowout victory. The Seawolves ran away with a 14-4 win over the Vermont Catamounts in their conference opener on March 26.

“[Vermont] is a very good offense that has scored a lot of goals,” head coach Joe Spallina said in an interview with The Statesman. “We were able to put the clamps on and they couldn’t do too much against us.”

The Seawolves held Vermont (8-2), a team that averaged over 14 points per game entering Saturday, to just 15 shots. Goalkeeper Charlie Campbell played a big part in limiting the Catamounts, adding seven saves out of 11 shots on goal.

On the offensive end, attackers Kailyn Hart and Jesse Arline led the way with six points apiece. Hart finished one goal shy of her season high. She, along with midfielders Ellie Masera and Rayna Sabella, finished with four goals.

Arline racked up five assists and one goal. Her five assists were the most by any Stony Brook player this year. The five assists were also a career high for Arline, topping the four that she recorded against Towson in 2019.

Stony Brook struggled with off-field obstacles entering Saturday’s game. According to Spallina, several players were dealing with a bout of the flu in the days leading up to the Vermont matchup. 

“We had an eventful couple of days with the flu ripping through our team pretty hard,” Spallina said. “We didn’t practice Wednesday or Thursday and we had 17 available players yesterday. It was kind of a mash unit early on and we got off to a sluggish start based on that but we are finding different ways to win now.”

After five minutes of scoreless lacrosse to open the game, Masera struck first with her team-leading 27th goal of 2022. Vermont took a while to respond, but eventually tied it up with five minutes left to play in the opening quarter. Sabella tallied her first points of the day at the three-minute mark to take the lead back.

The first quarter ended with a tight 2-1 lead for Stony Brook. After 15 minutes of play, Vermont’s defense was looking strong. Goalkeeper Sophie McLaughlin matched Campbell with two saves in the first quarter. The Catamounts had also controlled three of four draws, making it challenging for the Seawolves to go on a run.

“Yesterday, we worked on a lot of cutting during practice,” Masera said. “We thought [the Catamounts] were going to come out playing zone. They really came out playing man, but we still ended up using the cutting that we practiced. We are a really good cutting team, and we ended up using their own energy against them in the end.”

The Seawolves flipped a switch in the second quarter. It all started with another goal by Sabella. This time, it was in a man-up situation and Arline assisted her. After Vermont rallied back to get within one point, Hart struck for her first goal of the game. Again, Arline assisted one of her teammates to extend Stony Brook’s lead.

At this point, it was clear that Stony Brook’s offense had woken up. In the second quarter alone, they doubled their shots on goal while also maintaining pressure on the defensive end. Hart secured a hat trick by halftime, while Masera added her second of the game to make it 7-2.

After tying her career high with four assists in the first half, Arline opened the scoring in the third with her fourth goal of the season. She also recorded her fifth assist of the day on another goal by Hart. The Arline-Hart connection proved productive on Saturday, as Arline assisted three of Hart’s four goals.

“We had really good ball movement, and that made it a lot easier for me,” Arline said. “We were moving the ball so well that it was just automatic.”

By the beginning of the last quarter, Stony Brook was on a 10-0 run. Vermont rallied for two goals in the final 10 minutes, but it was no match for the Seawolves. Sabella’s fourth goal of the game gave Stony Brook its last goal of the day, securing the victory.

Despite recording a season-high 13 caused turnovers, including five from defender Haley Dillon and four from Masera (both career-highs), Stony Brook was on the short end in terms of draw controls (6) when compared to Vermont (14). Spallina looks to focus on Stony Brook’s draw unit in the future.

“In order for us to get into an offensive groove, it’s important that we control the tempo,” Spallina said. “You control the tempo by winning draws. You go on runs by winning draws. So, then it’s make-it take-it. It can’t be the other way around, so it’s an area we’ll work really hard on.”

After another dominant victory, the Seawolves will look to extend their winning streak to five as they take on No. 10 Princeton on Tuesday.

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