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No. 11 Stony Brook women’s lacrosse set to face Towson for CAA title

From left to right: midfielder Charlotte Verhulst, attacker Morgan Mitchell and midfielder Ellie Masera in a game against Hofstra on Friday, April 28. The three All-CAA selections will look to lead the Stony Brook women’s lacrosse team to the NCAA tournament. VIKRAM SETHI/THE STATESMAN

After winning its semifinal game of the 2023 Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) tournament, the No. 11 Stony Brook women’s lacrosse team will look to advance to the big dance.

The top two seeds are set to face off at Tiger Field in Maryland on Saturday for the 2023 CAA championship game. In order to capture the CAA’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, the top-seeded Seawolves (13-3, 7-0 CAA) must fend off the second-seeded Towson Tigers, who are playing on their home turf. Opening draw is scheduled for 12:30 p.m.

Stony Brook has been in the NCAA Tournament every year since 2013.

Among all of Stony Brook’s CAA opponents, Towson gave the Seawolves the biggest run for their money on April 22. The Seawolves won 14-11 but were outscored 8-6 over the final three quarters. In that game, attacker Morgan Mitchell scored five goals in the first quarter to ultimately carry Stony Brook to victory. That win secured the Seawolves the top seed in the CAA tournament.

Stony Brook comes into this championship game boasting arguably one of the most talented rosters in the nation. Midfielder Ellie Masera led the CAA in goals (62) and points (79) this year and is fresh off a six-point performance with four goals and two assists. She also leads the conference with 106 draw controls and 6.63 draw controls per game. Masera’s 3.88 goals per game is good for sixth-best in the NCAA, and it helped earn her the 2023 CAA Midfielder of the Year award. Naturally, she was also a 2023 All-CAA First Team selection.

The Seawolves have other midfielders who are amongst the best in the conference as well. Midfielder Jaden Hampel is their fourth-leading scorer and third-leading passer with 28 goals and 19 assists. She was selected to the All-CAA Second Team this year. Midfielder Charlotte Verhulst was given the same honor, and she has had a career year with 21 goals and seven assists. She has been instrumental in Stony Brook’s dominance in the draw circle this year, as she has controlled the second-most draws on the team with 51.

Midfielder Erin MacQuarrie has also been a positive contributor for Stony Brook, as she has scored eight goals and dished out seven assists.

Attacker Kailyn Hart is Stony Brook’s second-leading scorer, and she also racked up four goals and two assists on Thursday against Delaware. She is now second in the CAA in goals per game and fourth in goals with 44. Hart was also a All-CAA First Team selection.

The rest of Stony Brook’s attack is also lethal. Mitchell is sixth in the CAA in goals per game (2.44) and seventh in goals (39). She was selected to the All-CAA Second Team. Along with Hart, attacker Jolie Creo co-leads the team with 22 assists. Creo has also scored 11 goals this year.

Defensively, Stony Brook has several stars. Defender Clare Levy was selected to the All-CAA First Team. She has picked up 25 ground balls and 50 draw controls while also causing 12 turnovers this year. Defender Haley Dillon made the All-CAA Second Team and leads the squad with 25 caused turnovers. Her 1.67 caused turnovers per game is the third-best rate in the CAA. She is second on the team in ground balls with 27.

Defenders Ella Whitehouse and Lindsay Rongo have also been productive. Whitehouse is third on the team with 15 caused turnovers, and Rongo is right behind her with 14.

With all of these stars, Stony Brook has the best scoring offense and scoring defense in the CAA. The Seawolves also move the ball better than anybody, leading the conference in assists per game. They also lead the league in shooting percentage, shots per game, shots on goal per game and points per game.

Towson is just behind Stony Brook in most offensive categories. The Tigers are second in shots and shots on goal per game. They are also tied for second in goals per game. Towson is led by attacker Lindsey Marshall, who is fourth in the CAA in goals per game. Though a midfielder by trade, Marshall was selected to the All-CAA First Team as an attacker for her performance this year.

Marshall has some solid help around her. Towson attacker Milana Zizakovic was also an All-CAA First Team selection and has scored 55 total points with 40 goals and 15 assists. Just like Marshall, Zizakovic is actually a midfielder by trade. Towson midfielder Blair Pearre has scored 43 goals and dished out eight assists. She has picked up 43 ground balls, which is tied for the second-most in the conference, earning her a spot next to Marshall and Zizakovic on the All-CAA First Team.

Towson attacker Gabby Garrett is the team’s main facilitator, leading it with 21 assists. She has also scored 19 goals, which is the fifth-most on the team. Towson attacker Lindsay Clarke is fourth on the team in goals (21) and second in assists (18). Towson attacker Halley Koras rounds out the dangerous offense with 14 goals scored.

The Tigers’ dynamic offense will look to exploit Stony Brook’s biggest weakness, which has been its goaltending. The Seawolves are last in the conference in save percentage and saves per game.

The Tigers have some good players on defense, too. Towson defender Olivia Malamphy was an All-CAA Second Team selection, as she has picked up 23 ground balls and 17 draw controls. She has caused 25 turnovers and is tied for sixth in the CAA in caused turnovers per game. Towson defender Blair Goodrich was snubbed from all-conference recognition, as she is second in the CAA in caused turnovers and caused turnovers per game. Goodrich has scooped up 33 ground balls, which is tied for the second-most on the team.

Eight different Tigers have caused at least 10 turnovers this year, allowing them to lead the conference with 158.

Towson goalkeeper Jo Torres was an All-CAA Second Team selection, as she ranked second in both saves and save percentage in the regular season.

If Stony Brook wins, the team will have claimed the CAA championship in its first season in the conference. If Towson wins, it would be its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2016.

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About the Contributor
Alex Streinger
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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