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No. 6 Stony Brook women’s lacrosse suffers rare loss to unranked team

Midfielder Charlotte Verhulst in a game against Drexel on Sunday, April 2. Verhulst scored twice in a loss to Rutgers on Wednesday. TIM GIORLANDO/THE STATESMAN

In its final nonconference game of the season, the No. 6 Stony Brook women’s lacrosse team lost to an unranked team for the first time in four years.

The Seawolves (9-3, 4-0 CAA) returned to New Jersey on Wednesday to face off against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, only for them to suffer a massive 12-7 upset loss. Though the Scarlet Knights had lost seven of their previous eight games, their superior goaltending guided them to their first-ever win over a top-six opponent.

After entering the second quarter in a 4-4 tie, Rutgers began to distance itself from Stony Brook on the back of goalkeeper Sophia Cardello. During the period, she turned away three shots on cage, including a free-position shot from attacker Morgan Mitchell. Combined with a pair of goals from Rutgers midfielder Cassidy Spilis, Cardello’s strong netminding allowed the Scarlet Knights to take a two-goal lead into halftime.

Stony Brook dominated the possession battle, committing seven fewer turnovers and doubling Rutgers’ ground ball total. However, the Scarlet Knights were electric in the draw circle, controlling 15 of the 22 draws. This allowed them to remain at least one step ahead of the Seawolves for the rest of the game.

At the start of the third quarter, head coach Joe Spallina pulled starting goalkeeper Hailey Duchnowski in favor of backup goalkeeper Aaliyah Jones. Stony Brook got within one goal of Rutgers on two separate occasions with goals from attacker Kailyn Hart and midfielder Charlotte Verhulst. However, the Scarlet Knights beat Jones twice in a 23-second span late in the frame, taking a 10-7 lead into the fourth quarter.

Hoping to escape an upset, Stony Brook was blanked by Cardello and company. The Seawolves took six shots in the final frame but did not connect on any of them. Cardello saved four shots while the defense in front of her blocked the other two.

Of the 19 shots that Stony Brook landed on cage, Cardello saved 12 of them, good for a 63.2% save percentage. Her performance helped hand the Seawolves their first loss to an unranked team since March 3, 2019.

Stony Brook’s seven draw controls were its lowest total of the season. Though the Seawolves were better in most statistical categories, Rutgers’ performances in the cage and the draw circle allowed it to run away with the game.

Hart led the team with three goals scored. Verhulst and midfielder Jaden Hampel had the rest of Stony Brook’s goals, tallying a pair each. Mitchell had the team’s only assist. Midfielder Ellie Masera was held without a point for the first time since 2021, but her and defender Clare Levy co-led the team with three ground balls.

Duchnowski and Jones both struggled for Stony Brook, allowing a combined 12 goals while saving only five shots.

Spilis was everywhere for Rutgers. She led the Scarlet Knights with four goals scored while also recording an assist. She also picked up a ground ball and six controlled draws. Rutgers defender Meghan Ball picked up eight draw controls and three ground balls. Attackers Marin Hartshorn and Ava Kane each posted a hat trick.

Spallina did not speak to the media after the game.

The Seawolves will hope to bounce back on Saturday at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium when they take on the William & Mary Tribe. This season, the Tribe are 7-6 overall and 2-2 in Colonial Athletic Association (CAA). They are coming off a 10-9 win over George Washington on Wednesday. Opening draw is scheduled for 11 a.m.

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About the Contributor
Alex Streinger, Assistant Sports Editor
Alex Streinger is an Assistant Sports Editor of The Statesman. He is a junior majoring in journalism and minoring in political science. He is the beat reporter of the Stony Brook men’s soccer and nationally-ranked women’s lacrosse teams. He interns at Movendi International, the largest independent global social movement for development through alcohol prevention.
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