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Stony Brook women’s soccer needs several dominoes to fall for playoff berth

Defender Catharina von Drigalski sends a cross into the box against Elon on Sunday, Oct. 15. Von Drigalski is looking to help lead the Stony Brook women’s soccer team back to the playoffs. TIM GIORLANDO/THE STATESMAN

Though a berth to the 2023 Coastal Athletic Association (CAA) tournament is possible, the odds are currently not in the Stony Brook women’s soccer team’s favor.

Even after winning a pair of must-have matches, the Seawolves (6-5-5, 4-4-3 CAA) are not in control of their own playoff destiny. In a complicated situation, Stony Brook is on the unideal side of things.

The Seawolves currently sit in sixth place, which is good enough to clinch the final spot in the CAA playoffs. They have earned 15 total points and can earn as many as 18 with a win over third-place Northeastern on Thursday night. However, the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) controls Stony Brook’s destiny.

UNCW has 14 points this year but owns the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Seawolves. The Seahawks have two more matches left on their schedule, while Stony Brook only has one. In order for the Seawolves to beat out UNCW for the sixth seed, they are going to need to finish with more points in the conference standings. Due to the tiebreaker, if the Seahawks finish with an equal number of points, they will go to the CAA tournament instead.

The Seahawks will have one extra chance to earn points in the CAA standings this week and will also have much lighter opponents. Stony Brook will be facing the fourth-place team in the CAA who just beat first-place Towson, while UNCW will face 11th-place Drexel and 10th-place Delaware, respectively.

Also muddying up the Seawolves’ playoff waters are the Campbell Camels, who are still in the playoff mix. The Camels have 11 points and sit in eighth place. They also have two matches remaining on their schedule, meaning they have the opportunity to earn as many or more points in the CAA table than Stony Brook. The two teams met to start CAA play and drew 0-0. Campbell will host 12th-place Elon and then play third-place Monmouth. A pair of wins would give the Camels 17 points, but a win by the Seawolves would automatically eliminate them from postseason contention.

If Stony Brook beats or draws with Northeastern, Delaware will also be eliminated.

Below are many of the potential scenarios to look out for this week in regards to how Stony Brook can win a playoff spot, and all of them involve UNCW’s performance.

 

Stony Brook beats Northeastern, UNCW loses at least one match

If this happens on Thursday, the Seawolves will clinch. If Stony Brook wins on Thursday and the Seahawks win/draw the same night, a loss by them on Sunday would still do the job. Each team winning three points would cancel out, keeping the Seawolves ahead.

Stony Brook beats Northeastern, UNCW draws in both remaining matches

The win would boost the Seawolves to 18 points, while UNCW would only rise to 16.

Stony Brook draws with Northeastern, UNCW loses one and draws another, Campbell fails to win both remaining matches

The draw would give the Seawolves 16 points, while one draw only takes UNCW up to 15. A draw by Stony Brook would open the door for the Camels to sneak into the postseason, but they would have to win both of their remaining matches to make that happen. A loss or a draw by Campbell in either game would end its playoff chances.

*Extreme scenario: Stony Brook loses to Northeastern, UNCW loses both remaining matches, Campbell loses one remaining match or draws in both, Delaware loses to/draws with Hampton

Obviously, if this happens, the Seawolves maintain their spot over UNCW since neither gained a point. Based on that alone, they would be safe. However, the Blue Hens beat the Seahawks for Stony Brook in this scenario, which may lead to a tiebreaker issue if they beat the Hampton Pirates beforehand.

Delaware plays Hampton — the worst team in the nation — before facing UNCW. In order to avoid being tied at 15 points apiece, the Seawolves would need the Blue Hens to lose to or draw with Hampton. Not getting a win against the Pirates would prevent Delaware from being able to tie Stony Brook in the standings with 15 points.

During this same, messy scenario, a loss by Campbell would prevent it from being able to reach 15 points, which is where Stony Brook would stand after losing to Northeastern. Drawing in both remaining matches would lead to the same thing.

*Extreme scenario: Stony Brook beats Northeastern, UNCW also reaches 18 or more points, William & Mary loses both remaining matches

This would send the Seawolves to the playoffs, as well. This is more likely than it may seem, as William & Mary face Towson on Thursday and Northeastern on Sunday. Stony Brook owns the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Tribe, who currently have 18 points in the CAA standings. However, if William & Mary earns just one more point via a draw, then it clinches at least the sixth seed of the tournament.

In order for the Tribe to miss the playoffs, UNCW’s results matter heavily. A win and a draw by the Seahawks would give them, William & Mary and Stony Brook 18 points each. For reference, UNCW owns the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Tribe as well, which would give it control of the fifth seed. The Seawolves would then get the sixth spot.

Of course, if UNCW wins both games while William & Mary loses both, it earns more points anyway and the tiebreaker becomes useless.

*Extreme scenario: Stony Brook beats Northeastern, UNCW fails to reach 18 points, William & Mary loses both remaining matches

This would give the Seawolves 18 points, and it would keep the Tribe even with them. The head-to-head tiebreaker comes into play, giving Stony Brook the fifth seed and William & Mary the sixth. By failing to reach 18 points by losing at least one remaining match or drawing both, UNCW would waste its tiebreakers and miss the playoffs entirely.

 

So then what would eliminate the Seawolves? There are plenty of straws that can break Stony Brook’s back.

 

Stony Brook loses to Northeastern, UNCW wins one of its remaining matches

This one is self-explanatory. The win gives UNCW more conference points than the Seawolves, who have run out of time to gain ground.

Stony Brook loses to Northeastern, UNCW draws one of its remaining matches

This one is painfully possible. Both teams finish with 15 points, and the Seahawks’ tiebreaker is invoked.

Stony Brook beats Northeastern, UNCW wins one match and draws another

Both teams would finish with 18 points, which would send the Seahawks to the CAA tournament due to their tiebreaker.

Stony Brook draws with Northeastern, UNCW draws in both of its remaining matches

Both teams would finish with 16 points, giving the Seahawks the playoff berth instead.

Stony Brook draws with Northeastern, UNCW loses both remaining matches or draws in one, Campbell wins both remaining matches

The draw would give the Seawolves 16 points, and the Seahawks failing to match them in the standings would keep them safe. However, a pair of wins by the Camels would give them 17 points, which would end Stony Brook’s season.

Stony Brook loses to Northeastern, UNCW loses both remaining matches, Campbell wins one and draws one or wins both remaining matches

The Seawolves would finish with 15 points here. If the Camels win one and draw one, they finish with 15 points. This scenario would see Stony Brook finish 6-6-5 overall and 4-5-3 in the CAA, while Campbell would be 5-5-7 and 3-3-6, respectively. Neither team owns the head-to-head tiebreaker due to the draw earlier in the year. However, the Camels’ would-be .500 win percentage in conference play overshadows the Seawolves’ .458.

As stated above, if Campbell were to come out victorious in both of its remaining matches after Stony Brook failed to win, then the Camels would simply finish with more points.

*Extreme scenario: Stony Brook loses to Northeastern, UNCW loses both remaining matches, Delaware wins both remaining matches, Campbell loses one remaining match or draws in both

This scenario is actually feasible — perhaps making it not that extreme. However, several things have to happen in order for the Seawolves to still be booted from the tournament in the event that UNCW fails to outperform them.

The Blue Hens tied with Stony Brook earlier this year, and they play the winless Hampton Pirates on Thursday before playing the Seahawks on Sunday. Delaware is likely to beat the Pirates, as they are the worst team in the nation. In this same scenario, for UNCW to lose both games, the Blue Hens have to beat it on Sunday. The wins would give Delaware 15 points to break even with the Seawolves in the standings.

Since there is no head-to-head tiebreaker between the two, the team with the better record would make the playoffs. The Blue Hens would be 6-5-7 overall and 3-3-6 in CAA play, which would net higher win percentages than Stony Brook’s 6-6-5 overall and 4-5-3 conference records.

As for the Camels, by not reaching 15 points due to a loss and/or a pair of draws, they are eliminated.

 

Beating Northeastern could make Stony Brook’s life way easier, but even that is simply not enough. The Seawolves will definitely be fans of several other CAA rivals this week, as they look for help to get them into the postseason tournament.

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About the Contributor
Mike Anderson, Sports Editor
Mike Anderson is the Sports Editor at The Statesman. He is a senior majoring in journalism with aspirations of becoming a sports journalist. His love of sports comes from his time spent as a baseball player. As a reporter for The Statesman, he has covered baseball, softball, football, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s soccer, men's and women's lacrosse, women's volleyball and hockey. He has also interned at Axcess Sports as a high school and college baseball and softball reporter. He is a local product from Port Jefferson, N.Y. and is a diehard Mets, Jets, Nets and Islanders fan.
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