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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

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No. 15/16 Stony Brook women’s lacrosse to face Drexel in battle of undefeated CAA teams

Attacker Alex Finn maneuvers from the X against Rutgers on Tuesday, April 9. As the Stony Brook women’s lacrosse team’s leading facilitator, Finn will be integral to it when it faces Drexel. BRITTNEY DIETZ/THE STATESMAN

In its third and final game of the week, the No. 15/16 Stony Brook women’s lacrosse team will look to remain flawless in Coastal Athletic Association (CAA) play. 

The Seawolves (12-2, 6-0 CAA) will face off against the Drexel Dragons (10-3, 5-0 CAA) on Sunday in Philadelphia. Coming into the matchup, both teams alongside Hofstra are yet to lose and round up the top three in the conference standings. In their matchup last season, Stony Brook dispatched Drexel with ease in a 15-3 victory. Opening draw is set for noon.

The Seawolves may finally have an answer to their goalkeeping saga, as goalkeeper Emily Manning is trending in the right direction. Through 90 minutes of action this week, Manning has saved nine of the 21 shots she has faced.

Her .429 save percentage in the last two games is much improved from the .365 save percentage Manning owns this year, which is just ninth in the CAA. She is also ninth in the conference with 3.85 saves per game.

The lack of action Manning has had to face is largely due to Stony Brook’s suffocating defense. The Seawolves concede eight goals per game — the lowest number in the league and the joint-fourth fewest in the nation. 

Stony Brook makes many plays on the ball, as its 9.07 caused turnovers per game rank third in the CAA. Defender Avery Hines is the catalyst behind that number. In her first season as a regular starter, Hines has caused 37 turnovers to go alongside 27 ground balls. She is second in the conference with 2.64 caused turnovers per game.

Even with Hines’ stellar play, the Seawolves’ endline is in for a challenge since they are likely to be without defender Clare Levy, who went down with a non-contact knee injury against Rutgers on Tuesday. Levy is second on the team in ground balls (23) and third in caused turnovers (nine). She also plays a crucial role in Stony Brook’s clear game, where it possesses a .900 clearing percentage.

Another area where Levy is used often is on draws. Her 3.77 draw controls per game puts her at eighth in the league.

Still, even with removing Levy from the equation, the Seawolves have plenty of talent in their defensive group. Defenders McKenzie Mitchell, Jordan Forte and Rachel Rosenberg have combined for 27 ground balls and 21 caused turnovers. Forte missed Stony Brook’s last contest, leaving her status as questionable for Sunday’s affair.

Midfielders Erin MacQuarrie and Alexandra Fusco are two-way players that help the endline out. MacQuarrie has caused six turnovers and scooped up 17 ground balls to go alongside five goals and four assists. She has started every game for Stony Brook.

Fusco mostly comes off the bench but has still put up formidable numbers. She has racked up seven caused turnovers, 15 ground balls, five goals and three assists this year.

Drexel’s offense will rely heavily on attacker Corinne Bednarik to break through against the Seawolves’ endline. Bednarik has put up a CAA-leading 71 points this season, making her the second-best point producer on average in the CAA (5.46). She averages 3.38 goals per game and dishes out 2.08 assists per game. 

Outside of Bednarik, the Dragons lack top-end point production. Drexel’s second best producer is attacker Allison Drake, who has tallied 29 goals but just 32 points on the season. Drexel attackers Kate Marano, Anna Maria Gragnani and Bea Buckley along with midfielder Maddie Fowler have all done some work on the offensive end. They have combined for 40 goals and 70 points, but it has not lifted much weight off Bednarik’s shoulders. 

Drexel midfielders and siblings Alex and Ellie Wall have also been a productive pair. Alex Wall has netted 14 goals and notched a helper, while Ellie Wall has scored 13 goals despite not starting a game this season.

As a unit, the Dragons’ post the third-most goals per game (12.08) in the CAA while throwing 20.15 shots on goal per game. However, Drexel’s offense is still noticeably weaker than the Seawolves’. Stony Brook’s CAA-best offense ranks ninth in the nation in goals per game (16.14) and 10th in shots on goal per game (25.07). 

Midfielder Ellie Masera and attacker Kailyn Hart headline the Seawolves’ offense, as they are tied atop the CAA leaderboard with 49 goals apiece. Masera has recorded the second-most points (69) in the conference and she averages 5.75 points per game — the best rate in the CAA and the fourth-highest rate in the nation. Hart’s 62 points are the fourth most in the conference.

Even if the Dragons find a way to shut down Masera and Hart, attacker Alex Finn can also pick apart the defense. Finn has been the primary playmaker from the X position, dishing out a CAA-leading 45 assists and putting up 67 points — the fourth most in the CAA. Finn’s 3.21 assists per game represents the fifth-best mark in the nation. 

Outside of its top three producers, midfielder Charlotte Verhulst has proven she is an offensive threat. She has been Stony Brook’s third-best goalscorer (31) and has accumulated a total of 43 points. 

Attackers Morgan Mitchell and Courtney Maclay and midfielder Jaden Hampel are all good depth options, as they have combined for 41 points. Maclay has netted 11 goals, while Hampel and Mitchell follow closely with 10 and nine goals, respectively.

Levy and midfielder Isabella Caporuscio have chipped in offensively, as well. Levy has scored eight goals and added four assists, while Caporuscio has netted seven and tallied three helpers.

If any team in the CAA can stifle the Seawolves, it is the Dragons’ defense. Drexel has allowed just 8.13 goals per game, which is the second-lowest total in the conference. 

A large reason why the Dragons have been so good at shutting down their opposition this season is because of goalkeeper Jenika Cuocco. She has started all of the team’s 13 games this season and has posted a .589 save percentage, which is the second-best mark in the nation and tops in the CAA. Cuocco has stopped a conference-leading 11.69 shots per game. As one of the best goalies in the nation, Cuocco has the ability to carry her team to an upset win. 

Along with making saves, Cuocco’s team-leading 30 ground balls are the sixth most in the conference.

Providing support for Cuocco are stalwart defenders Alli VanSlyke, Belle McHugh and Camryn Ryan. VanSlyke has recovered 28 ground balls this season and 2.15 per game, which is tied for the eight-best rate in the CAA. VanSlyke has also caused 10 turnovers. 

McHugh and Ryan are the best on the team at forcing turnovers with 14 and 15, respectively. Ryan’s 1.15 caused turnovers per game rank ninth in the CAA and McHugh’s 1.08 per game are tied for 10th. McHugh has scooped up 20 ground balls and Ryan has picked up 17. 

Along with their offense, Marano and Alex Wall have been key to the possession game, as they have scooped up 15 and 14 ground balls, respectively. Drake and midfielder Molly Weygand have picked up 11 ground balls, while Bednarik has notched 10.

In regards to draw controls, the Seawolves should have the edge. They control the second-most draws per game (15.36) in the CAA compared to Drexel’s 11.54. Verhulst, Masera and Levy are Stony Brook’s go-to draw control unit, but Hines is likely to replace Levy during her absence. Masera leads the team with 95 possessions and is second in the conference with 7.92 per game. Verhulst and Levy have controlled 43 and 49 draws, respectively. 

Along with her offensive prowess, Bednarik is the Dragons’ most important player when taking draws, as she has won possession 51 times. Fowler and Gragnani fill out the rest of Drexel’s draw control unit. Gragnani has won 46 draws while Fowler has earned possession 14 times.

As usual against CAA opponents, Stony Brook has the edge everywhere on paper and is heavily favored to win.

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