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Late goal ends No. 11/12 Stony Brook women’s lacrosse’s home winning streak

Midfielder Charlotte Verhulst (background) passes the ball to fellow midfielder Erin MacQuarrie (foreground) against Villanova on Saturday, March 2. Verhulst scored three goals on Monday while MacQuarrie scored one and had one assist. STANLEY ZHENG/THE STATESMAN

While facing its third consecutive ranked opponent, the No. 11/12 Stony Brook women’s lacrosse team fell in front of its home crowd for the first time in five years.

With their 38-game winning streak at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium on the line, the Seawolves (5-2) hosted the No. 14/15 Denver Pioneers (4-3) on Monday. In a back-and-forth affair, Denver got the final say with a last-minute goal to hand Stony Brook an 8-7 loss.

A battle of aggressive defenses coming into the contest played out as advertised on Monday. Each team committed a season-high in turnovers, as the Seawolves coughed up the ball up 19 times to the Pioneers’ 20.

Both sides failed to generate many opportunities, leading to a 5-5 tie heading into the fourth quarter. Just two and a half minutes into the final frame, midfielder Erin MacQuarrie broke the tie with her third goal of the year. After holding the lead for the next six and a half minutes, defender Avery Hines fouled Denver attacker Julia Gilbert, who was awarded with a free-position opportunity.

Gilbert converted on her chance and tied the game at six apiece. On the next attacking set, Gilbert gave the Pioneers a 7-6 lead with just 4:53 left. Just 40 seconds later, midfielder Ellie Masera drew a foul in the fan from Denver defender Sam Thacker, allowing her to do the same as Gilbert and tie the game with a free-position goal.

Over the next minute, Hines caused a pair of turnovers to keep the game tied. Hines had four caused turnovers overall against the Pioneers, tying a career-high total that she set earlier this season against Villanova.

Stony Brook’s rising defensive star attributed her success to the team’s system.

“The movement of their offense is very similar to the ones that we’ve played the past two games,” Hines said in a postgame press conference. “The way that our defense moves just allowed me to [succeed]. Everybody else is playing amazing.”

Now with a chance to go back in front and the game clock ticking below two minutes, Denver’s defense denied any openings for the Seawolves through the first 80 seconds of the possession.

With the shot clock winding down, attacker Kailyn Hart flagged down a loose ball from deep on the right wing before dodging her way through the lane. With the shot clock down to seven seconds, Hart threaded the needle to midfielder Ellie Masera through three defenders in front of the crease. While falling forward, Masera guided the ball into the net, but the officials ruled she had stepped into the crease to negate the goal.

The call ensured that the Pioneers would have the last crack to break the tie before overtime if they could successfully clear, which they did. They took their time on that attacking set, chewing the game clock down to 19 seconds before a haywire pass went into a cloud of three players.

Stony Brook had a chance for the takeaway, but defender Rachel Rosenberg flicked it into the air, allowing Denver attacker Jane Earley to corral it and whip it past goalkeeper Emily Manning all in one motion. The Pioneers iced the game in the circle, where midfielder Abby Jenkins controlled the ensuing draw and played keepaway to hand the Seawolves the loss.

Head coach Joe Spallina knew it was going to be a dogfight, but he had hoped for a different outcome.

“I told them at halftime this was going to be one that we pull to the finish line, it wasn’t going to be a thing of beauty,” Spallina said. “It was kind of the way the game was playing out. It ended similar to what I told them. It was an ugly, botched turnover really that we had.”

Stony Brook controlled only eight of the affair’s 18 draws, but it outshot Denver 22-19.

Masera and midfielder Charlotte Verhulst both put up hat tricks. MacQuarrie tallied a goal and assist while Hart was held without a goal and dished out just one dime. Denver’s suffocating defense completely shut down attacker Alex Finn, who was held pointless from the X.

Manning saved six of the 14 shots she faced for a .429 save percentage. Between the pipes for the Pioneers, goalkeeper Emelia Bohi stopped six shots in 13 (46.2%) chances.

In front of Manning, the Seawolves caused 12 turnovers. After Hines’ four, Verhulst and midfielder Alexandra Fusco each finished with two. MacQuarrie, Masera, Rosenberg and defender Jordan Forte all finished with one takeaway. Hines and MacQuarrie both picked up two ground balls apiece.

Gilbert led Denver with four goals while attacker Olivia Penoyer dished out a trio of assists. Thacker — the 2023 Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association Defender of the Year — led the Pioneers with three caused turnovers and three ground balls.

Stony Brook has now suffered consecutive losses for the first time since 2019. The Seawolves will look to get back on the win column on Saturday when they open conference play down in Maryland against the Towson Tigers. The Tigers are 2-4 this year and are coming off a 16-3 loss to No. 5/9 Loyola Maryland. Opening draw is scheduled for noon.

Kenny Spurrell also contributed reporting.

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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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