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No. 14 Stony Brook women’s lacrosse hosts much-improved Elon

Four Stony Brook women’s lacrosse players celebrate a goal against Arizona State on Feb. 23. The Seawolves will host Elon tomorrow for their second conference game of the year. BRITTNEY DIETZ/THE STATESMAN

For the first of two games in a three-day stretch, the No. 14 Stony Brook women’s lacrosse team will take on a much-improved Coastal Athletic Association (CAA) foe.

After going 0-7 in conference play last year, the Elon Phoenix (5-4, 1-0 CAA) will visit the Seawolves (6-2, 1-0 CAA) on Friday at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium. Opening draw for Friday’s contest is set for 6:31 p.m. Stony Brook will look to repeat its destruction of Elon from last year when it won 17-5.

The Phoenix’s improvement this season is due in large part to their draw control unit. It ranks fourth in the nation in draw control percentage (.650) and first in the CAA in draw controls per game (16.89).

Midfielder M.J. Santa Barbara — a first-year player — has been a revelation for their draw group. Her 9.67 draw controls per game place her at fifth in the nation and first in the conference. Midfielder Mikaela Buoscio’s 23 draw controls puts her just behind Santa Barbara on the team leaderboard.

Elon currently ranks just sixth out of nine teams in the CAA with 11.67 goals per game. Leading the way for the Phoenix in the goalscoring department is midfielder Anna Hackett. She has tallied 22 goals, which is good for fourth in the conference.

Elon has been aggressive on offense, as it sits just behind the Seawolves with the second-most shots per game (30.56) in the CAA. It also has three other players who have reached double-digit goal totals. Alongside Hackett, attackers Cierra Hopson (17) and Kaitlyn Michaud (12) alongside fellow midfielder Sammy Fisher (16) are all starters who have scored more than 10 times this year.

Other players that have stuffed the stat sheet for the Phoenix are attacker Ana Lee Vandiver and midfielder Mia Zebley. Vandiver has scored nine times and dished out six assists, which co-leads the team alongside Hackett and midfielder Maddie Engelkraut. Zebley is another freshman that has made an impact for Elon, tallying five goals and four dimes. Buoscio has scored seven times this year, as well.

Elon may be vulnerable if it does not take care of the ball, as it commits the fourth-most turnovers per game (15) in the CAA. That could be an issue against Stony Brook, who average the fourth-most caused turnovers per game (8.38) in the conference.

Defender Avery Hines has become a regular on the Seawolves’ endline for the first time in her three-year career. Hines has made the most of the opportunity, as she ranks second in the CAA with 2.25 caused turnovers per game.

Hines and defender Clare Levy are the anchors of their defense. They hold opponents to the third-fewest goals per game (9.13) in the CAA.

As usual, Levy has been everywhere for Stony Brook this season, as she has caused seven turnovers, scooped up 14 ground balls, controlled 29 draws and also posted five points (four goals and one assist). She is ninth in the CAA with 3.63 draw controls per game.

Other starters on the Seawolves’ backline include defenders McKenzie Mitchell and Jordan Forte. Mitchell has caused six turnovers and picked up five ground balls. Forte has tallied two caused turnovers and seven ground balls. Off the bench, defender Rachel Rosenberg and midfielder Alexandra Fusco have caused four turnovers apiece. Midfielder Erin MacQuarrie is third on the team with 13 ground balls picked up.

Behind the defense, goalkeeper Emily Manning has struggled. However, she has been better as of late. Over the last two games, Manning has posted a .407 save percentage. Still, she ranks last in the conference in save percentage (.333) and is outside the CAA’s top 10 in saves per game (4.13). Behind her, goalkeeper Aaliyah Jones has played well in limited opportunities, as she has saved seven of the 12 (58.3%) shots that have come her way.

Conversely, goalkeeper Caitlin Walsh has been better while minding the Phoenix’s cage. She sits ninth in the conference with a .402 save percentage and seventh with 7.56 saves per game.

Thus far, Elon is fifth in the CAA with 11.22 goals surrendered per contest. Defender Reagan Kuehn is the main force of her squad’s defense, as she ranks fourth in the conference with 1.67 caused turnovers per game and seventh with 2.33 ground balls per contest.

Joining Kuehn on the Phoenix’s endline are defenders Kailee Follette, Jessie Penner and Brooke Scheuermann. The trio have combined for 27 caused turnovers and 31 ground balls. Follette is fifth in the CAA with 1.63 caused turnovers per game.

Another defensive starter is defender Kiley Selquist, who has caused a pair of turnovers and scooped up three ground balls this year.

Those players will have as tough of a task as it gets in the CAA. Stony Brook will look to expand upon its conference-best 14.75 goals per game offense against Elon.

Midfielder Ellie Masera is the Seawolves’ superstar. She is tied for second in the nation in goals per game (4.63) and is first in the conference in that same category by more than a goal. Masera is also second in the CAA in draw controls per game (eight) and fifth in assists per game (1.75). Overall, she has scored 37 goals and dished out 14 assists.

Attacker Kailyn Hart is second on the team with 21 goals. From the X, attacker Alex Finn has contributed 14 goals and 22 assists. Finn leads the CAA with 2.75 assists per game.

Midfielder Charlotte Verhulst is another Stony Brook star that is involved in multiple facets of the game. Along with 18 goals and four assists, she is the team’s primary draw-taker and has controlled 24 of them.

Those four have combined 90 of the Seawolves’ 118 goals this year. Outside of them, attacker Courtney Maclay and midfielder Isabella Caporuscio have tallied six goals and one assist apiece. Attacker Morgan Mitchell has taken a step back in production due to playing time, as she has posted just four goals and four assists this year.

Another player that has had her minutes cut is midfielder Jaden Hampel. She began the season injured but has now played in five games and has scored just two goals. MacQuarrie has contributed three goals and two assists thus far.

Stony Brook’s draw control unit consists of Verhulst, Masera and Levy. As a team, it picks up 15.5 draw controls per game, which ranks second in the CAA.

With little chance of moving up in the national rankings from here on out, the Seawolves will likely have to decimate all of their conference opponents to ascend in the polls. If their offense can take advantage of the Phoenix’s defense and they can outmatch them in the draw circle, then they may very well accomplish just that.

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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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