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The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


No. 11 Stony Brook women’s lacrosse to play fourth-seeded Delaware in CAA semifinals

The Stony Brook women’s lacrosse team celebrates a goal against Hofstra on Friday, April 28. The Stony Brook women’s lacrosse team is the top seed in the 2023 CAA tournament, which will begin on Thursday. VIKRAM SETHI/THE STATESMAN

As it gears up for its first-ever Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) tournament, a 10th-consecutive NCAA tournament appearance for the No. 11 Stony Brook women’s lacrosse team is on the horizon.

In an interview with The Statesman before the season, head coach Joe Spallina stressed the importance of his squad reaching the No. 1 national ranking. It would have helped Stony Brook earn home-field advantage through the opening rounds of the NCAA tournament. After coming into the season ranked sixth and rising to fourth by March, the Seawolves (12-3, 7-0 CAA) fell way short of that goal.

Stony Brook’s shortcomings have put its hopes for an at-large bid to the national tournament at risk. Instead, the team will likely have to rely on an automatic bid by way of a CAA tournament championship to get there. The 2023 CAA Women’s Lacrosse Tournament will take place at Tiger Field in Maryland, the home of the Towson Tigers. The playoffs will kick off on Thursday with Stony Brook — the top seed in the CAA — playing the fourth-seeded Delaware Blue Hens at noon.

Although the team suffered three tough losses during the regular season, none were in the conference. The Seawolves easily secured the number one seed in the postseason tournament, as they finished 7-0 in conference play and outscored their opponents by a combined score of 123-42. Stony Brook’s undefeated conference record earned Spallina the 2023 CAA Coach of the Year award.

In accordance with their record, the Seawolves dominated the CAA’s statistical leaderboards. They ranked first in goals, assists, points and draw controls per game. They also took the most shots and landed the most shots on goal while allowing the fewest goals. The team also committed the fewest turnovers, posted the highest shot percentage and had the best penalty-kill unit.

Stony Brook has a bevy of stars on both sides of the ball and will rely on them to carry it back to the NCAA tournament. Midfielder Ellie Masera was the CAA’s leading goal-scorer this year with 58 and averaged 3.87 per game. She also led the conference in shots, points and draw controls. She is also the nation’s sixth-leading goal scorer in goals per game, putting her in consideration for an All-American nod. On Wednesday, she was named 2023 CAA Midfielder of the Year and earned a spot on the 2023 All-CAA First Team.

Attacker Kailyn Hart finished the season with the third-most goals and fourth-most goals per game in the CAA. She also dished out the fourth-most assists per game with 1.33 and posted a career-high 20 assists for Stony Brook this year. Her performance earned her a selection to the All-CAA First Team as well.

Also on the lethal Stony Brook attack is attacker Morgan Mitchell, who was fifth in goals per game and eighth in goals. She was the team’s third-leading scorer and was named an All-CAA Second Team selection.

Rounding out Stony Brook’s frontline is attacker Jolie Creo. She led the team with 21 assists, including a career-high eight against Towson on April 22. She added nine goals as well, good for 30 total points.

Midfielder Jaden Hampel was very good on both sides of the ball, which earned her a spot next to Mitchell on the 2023 All-CAA Second Team. She was the team’s fourth-leading goal scorer (28) and totaled the third-most assists (18). Hampel also contributed to Stony Brook’s dominance in the circle, picking up 26 draw controls, which was fourth on the team. 

Fellow midfielder Charlotte Verhulst had a career year, totaling 18 goals and seven assists. She was second on the team with 50 draw controls. Just like Hampel, she was named to the All-CAA Second Team.

Midfielder Erin MacQuarrie also chipped in as the team’s sixth-leading scorer with 14 points (seven goals, seven assists).

Defensively, Stony Brook has a couple of studs. Defender Clare Levy picked up 22 ground balls and 49 draw controls while also causing 10 turnovers. Her performance earned her a spot on the All-CAA First Team. Right beside Levy was Defender Haley Dillon, who made the All-CAA Second Team and caused the fourth-most turnovers per game in the conference. Her 22 caused turnovers were nine more than any other Seawolf, and her 24 ground balls were the second most on the squad.

Defenders Lindsay Rongo and Ella Whitehouse were also productive, causing 12 turnovers each to tie them for third-most on the team.

Stony Brook’s biggest statistical weakness is its goaltending. The team ranked last in the CAA in save percentage at 36.6% and saves per game with just 4.73. Goalkeeper Hailey Duchnowski struggled mightily, as she stopped just 36.2% of the shots she faced. Backup goalkeeper Aaliyah Jones fared much better, but most of her outings were in garbage time. She saved 46.7% of shots that came her way.

Stony Brook’s dominance over its conference opponents was on full display in its regular season meeting with Delaware. On March 18, the Seawolves defeated the Blue Hens 19-6 at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium. Masera scored a career-high seven goals in that game, while Hart added four more.

During the first meeting between the two teams, Stony Brook dominated possession and was more disciplined. The Seawolves controlled 20 of the 27 draws, allowing them to take 30 more shots. The Seawolves also turned the ball over just seven times compared to Delaware’s 14 giveaways.

The Blue Hens have made strides since that matchup though, which marked both team’s conference opener. Delaware finished the regular season 8-7 and 4-3 in CAA play.

Delaware comes into the CAA championship ranked first in the conference in caused turnovers per game and second in draw controls per game.

The Blue Hens’ defense is anchored by the 2023 CAA Defensive Player of the Year: defender Madison Hranicka. She tops the conference in caused turnovers and ranks third in the nation in that area with 3.07 per game. In the draw circle, attacker Danielle Livornese and defender Sam Schelling lead the way, as they are ranked third and ninth in the CAA in draw controls per game, respectively.

The Blue Hens’ last line of defense was goalkeeper Mercy McCarthy, who had an up-and-down season. She ranked fourth in the CAA in saves (113) and save percentage (42.8%).

Delaware has greatly improved its offense since the team’s first meeting. The Blue Hens’ attack is spearheaded by attacker Delaney McDaniel, who leads the CAA in assists with 31. McDaniel also scored 11 goals, giving her 42 points to lead the team. Their top goal-scorer is Livornese, who is peaking at the right time. She has 29 goals this year and 14 over her last five games.

Delaware midfielder Lizzie Yurchak was instrumental in the Blue Hens’ offense, as she scored 26 goals and added eight assists. Yurchak was named to the All-CAA Second Team. Delaware attacker Lizzie Hsu also scored 26 goals, tying the two of them for second on the team.

Delaware midfielder Morgan Gore and attacker McKenzie Didio both made the 2023 CAA All-Rookie team. Gore tallied 18 points this year with 14 goals and four assists. Didio scored 10 goals for the Blue Hens.

Delaware had eight total players score a double-digit number of goals, which is the most of any team in the postseason tournament. Delaware attacker Riley Gillin scored 11 goals and was second on the team with 14 assists. Rounding out the group was Delaware midfielder Keira Grant, who scored 10 goals.

The Blue Hens’ improved scoring and solid defense have helped lead them to a 4-2 record since their meeting with Stony Brook. Delaware scored over 10 goals in every game after that meeting.

Not everything is trending upwards for the Blue Hens though, as their sloppiness has hurt them all season. Delaware ranks last in turnovers in the conference.

If Stony Brook beats Delaware, it will play in the championship game on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. against the winner of the Towson-Drexel game. The Towson Tigers are the two seed, while the Drexel Dragons are the three-seed. Those two teams make up the other semifinal matchup, which will start at 2:30 p.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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