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No. 11 Stony Brook women’s lacrosse moves to 3-0 with beatdown of Arizona State

Midfielder Isabella Caporuscio (35) scoops up a ground ball to maintain possession in the offensive zone against Arizona State on Friday, Feb. 23. Caporuscio totaled two goals, three ground balls and one caused turnover in the win. BRITTNEY DIETZ/THE STATESMAN

Though attacker Kailyn Hart and midfielder Jaden Hampel were nowhere to be seen and the goaltending was almost nonexistent, the No. 11 Stony Brook women’s lacrosse team still dominated.

At Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium on Friday morning, the Seawolves (3-0) beat up on the Arizona State Sun Devils (3-1) in a 20-9 blowout. Despite a season-high in scoring and a win by 11 goals, Stony Brook did not exactly coast to victory.

It only took two minutes and 10 seconds for midfielder Ellie Masera to open. Rolling off a screen from attacker Morgan Mitchell, Masera rifled it over Arizona State goalkeeper Katie Vahle’s head and in. The Sun Devils tied it up with a goal from attacker Mina Scott at the 10:18 mark of the first quarter, but attacker Alex Finn restored the Seawolves’ lead with a goal just 36 seconds later.

However, Scott did it again just two and a half minutes later, catching one while cutting towards the goal and spinning away from defender Avery Hines to create space. Her shot beat goalkeeper Emily Manning, who allowed all nine of the shots she faced on Friday to find the back of the net.

After another 2:20 passed, attacker Courtney Maclay caught a feed from the X and drove down the lane before colliding with Arizona State defender Bella Gaspar. Maclay dumped her shot over Gaspar’s head as the two fell to the ground, slipping past Vahle’s stick and breaking the tie.

Maclay’s goal sparked a 5-1 run that saw a pair of goals from midfielder Charlotte Verhulst and additional scores from Masera and Mitchell to extend their lead to 7-3. Scott and the Sun Devils did not roll over and die, as her fourth goal of the first half sparked a 3-0 run to finish the second quarter, cutting Stony Brook’s lead to 7-6 by halftime.

Verhulst attributed the poor finish to the first half to some nerves.

“Knowing that they had that deficit on us that was just one goal, I think we just needed to calm ourselves a little bit and connect and talk it through,” Verhulst said in a postgame press conference. “I know for me, we were talking at all times. We just needed to connect a little bit more, and we did that when we came out of it.”

Coming out of the locker room, the Seawolves rode their midfield corps to flip the script. Just 47 seconds into the third quarter, Verhulst completed a hat trick with a woman-up goal before midfielder Isabella Caporuscio expanded the lead with a score of her own.

Head coach Joe Spallina was impressed with Caporuscio’s performance.

“I thought she did a great job in flipping the script a little bit and winning some momentum back,” Spallina said. “Not just scoring goals, but defensively, she was awesome. When you’re surrounded with so many veteran players, it’s not the easy thing for a freshman to go in and be a boss, and I thought Bella was a boss today.”

After Verhulst and Caporuscio’s goals made it a 9-6 game, Arizona State midfielder Berit Brookfield scored an unassisted one with 11:08 left in the third quarter. However, Caporuscio answered right back with her second goal of the day to jump-start a 6-0 scoring run. Masera added a pair of scores off dishes from Finn before Maclay tallied her second of the day.

To finish off the scoring spree, it was Finn’s turn to get selfish, as she rounded the X and hurled in a pair of goals on consecutive possessions to go up 15-7 with just 1:41 left in the third period.

The random streak gave Stony Brook a firm grip on the game and it never looked back. Spallina was impressed by the way that his attack woke up after the break.

“They understand what I want; we have conversations from 70 yards away,” Spallina said. “They’re so good and connected with me that they score almost on command … that’s not normal. I’ve been doing this a long time, and that’s not something that happens often.”

The rest of the game was all garbage time. The Sun Devils cut the Seawolves’ lead from eight goals to seven early in the fourth quarter, but Masera, Mitchell, Finn and defender Clare Levy all scored to crack 20.

Though the game got dicey right before halftime, Levy was proud of the way her team fought through adversity.

“Obviously, that decline in the second quarter wasn’t ideal, but I think what was more important was our response to that,” Levy said. “They might’ve hit us hard, but we hit back even harder.”

Stony Brook’s offense was automatic in the second half and finished with some excellent numbers. The Seawolves outshot Arizona State 39-15 in total and 29-11 on goal. Masera led them with six goals and five assists for a season-best 11 points.

Masera credits the offense’s success to each player executing their designed role, such as Finn at the X.

“I think the role playing’s a huge part, and I think having Finny added to our roster was incredible for us,” Masera said. “I think we know what we have to do and we just have to figure it out.”

Finn had her best game of the year thus far with four goals and three assists. Verhulst added an assist to her three goals. Mitchell contributed two goals and an assist. Maclay and Caporuscio each scored twice while Levy tallied her second goal of the year.

Attacker Caitlin Dellecave also found the scoresheet with two assists.

Defender McKenzie Mitchell had the best game of her career, causing her first four turnovers of the year. Hines caused another two turnovers while Verhulst, Caporuscio and Levy each totaled one.

Verhulst, Levy and Masera dominated the draw circle, as Stony Brook controlled 19 of the 31 draws. Masera led the team with 10 draw controls, followed by Levy with seven.

The Seawolves won the battle on the ground 17-12. Caporuscio led them with three ground ball pickups. Hines, Levy, Verhulst, McKenzie Mitchell and defender Abigail Sabella each picked up two ground balls.

Backup goalkeeper Aaliyah Jones also had a noteworthy day, saving both of the shots she faced in the fourth quarter after subbing in for Manning. As for Vahle, she only stopped nine of the 28 shots that came her way. Her backup — goalkeeper Sara Flobeck — let the only shot she saw slip by her.

Stony Brook will now get seven days of rest before wrapping up its four-game homestand against the Villanova Wildcats on Saturday, March 2 at 10 a.m. The Wildcats are 2-1 this year after beating La Salle 14-4 on Wednesday. They will face No. 17 Navy on Saturday and Saint Joseph’s next Wednesday before their meeting with the Seawolves.

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