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Stony Brook women’s soccer to enter crucial do-or-die showdown with Northeastern

Forward Ashley Bell (foreground) plays a ball against Elon on Sunday, Oct. 15. Bell won the conference’s Rookie of the Week award on Monday. TIM GIORLANDO/THE STATESMAN

The Stony Brook women’s soccer team has a big hurdle to jump over if it is to make the 2023 Coastal Athletic Association (CAA) championship tournament.

If the Seawolves (6-5-5, 4-4-3 CAA) are to make the playoffs, they are likely going to need to beat the Northeastern Huskies (8-3-4, 6-1-3 CAA) in Boston on Thursday night. The Huskies are in fourth place in the CAA table right now and are coming off an upset victory over first-place Towson on Sunday. Opening kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.

Northeastern’s lethal attack has scored the second-most goals in the CAA, averaging 2.133 per game. Leading the attack is 2022 All-CAA First Team midfielder Jessie Hunt, who has scored the fifth most goals (six) in the CAA. Hunt is not only a strong finisher but also the best playmaker in the conference. She has served up nine assists to lead the CAA.

Forward Vivian Akyirem co-leads the team with six goals and has also dished out four assists. Forward Lauren Ahles has had an incredible year as a reserve, scoring five goals on just 11 shots. She has also contributed an assist. Forward Rose Kaefer and midfielders Lauren Dupont and Alexis Legowski have all contributed three assists each.

This will be a tough matchup for Stony Brook, who have conceded the sixth most goals per match (1.25) in the CAA. The Seawolves are playing better of late, allowing only five goals over the last five games.

Leading Stony Brook’s defense are defenders Catharina von Drigalski and Kerry Pearson. Defender Aneta Sovakova missed last Sunday’s match against Elon with an injury suffered against Drexel, and will likely be out again on Thursday. Defender Angelina Lent has seen plenty of game time in October, starting three out of four matches this month. Defenders Grace Cagnina and Emma Beattie have also been rotated into the mix. Midfielders Gabby Daniels and Ashley Manor are also strong defensive players.

Goalkeeper Nicolette Pasquarella will probably be leaned on heavily against the Huskies like she has been for most of the year. Pasquarella is second in the CAA in saves with 65, and her .774 save percentage is seventh.

Not only does Northeastern have an elite frontline, but it also has a quality backline. The Huskies have conceded the sixth-fewest goals in the CAA (0.93). Their backline consists of defenders Faith Rosenblatt, Addison Davis, Katherine Marchesseault and Natalie Olsen. Freshman defender Maddie Aughe has also been rotated into the starting lineup, starting three out of four games in this month including the win over Towson.

In goal for Northeastern is 2022 All-CAA Third Team goalkeeper Holland Stam, who has the sixth-best save percentage in the conference (.776). Stam also has four clean sheets this year. Her workload has been kept easy, as her 3.21 saves per match ranks only ninth in the CAA.

Similar to the Huskies, the Seawolves also have a dangerous attack, ranking third with 1.813 goals per game. Without the team’s top goalscorer — forward Reilly Rich — Stony Brook’s attack has rediscovered its form scoring 12 goals in its last five matches.

Midfielder Linn Beck and forward Gabrielle Côté are tied with four goals each, trailing only Rich on the team’s leaderboard. Beck and von Drigalski co-lead the team with four assists each. Forward Luciana Setteducate secured her first career brace against Elon, as she scored her first two goals of the year. She has also dished out three assists. Pearson has tallied a career-high three goals this year and scored one against Elon.

Forward Ashley Bell has scored two goals in her last two appearances and is the current reigning CAA Rookie of the Week. Manor has also scored two goals this year from the midfield.

The team will also get forward Graceann Murphy back from a suspension after taking a red card against Drexel. She has scored two goals and added two assists this year.

Even if the Seawolves win, they will still need to root for the University of North Carolina Wilmington to lose. In the event that they lose, they will also have to root for Campbell and Delaware to fail just enough to where they can still squeeze into the playoffs.

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