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Masera’s big day leads No. 15/16 Stony Brook women’s lacrosse to win over Drexel

Midfielder Ellie Masera battles Rutgers defender Jessica Beneducci on Tuesday, April 9. During Sunday’s win against Drexel, Masera set a single-game career-high with 12 points. BRITTNEY DIETZ/THE STATESMAN

In an affair that started out neck and neck, the No. 15/16 Stony Brook’s women’s lacrosse team pulled away with a victory to ensure that it stayed perfect in conference play.

The Seawolves (13-2, 7-0 CAA) took to the road this weekend to face the Drexel Dragons (10-4, 6-1 CAA) in Philadelphia on Sunday. With both teams going into the matchup without a blemish on their Coastal Athletic Association (CAA) records this season, Stony Brook defeated the Dragons 18-11 to hand them their first conference loss.

Just over two minutes into the contest, Drexel drew first blood when midfielder Alex Wall scored. However, attacker Kailyn Hart wasted no time responding, as she netted her 50th goal of the season 30 seconds later to bring the contest level.

Under two minutes later, Drexel attacker Allison Drake scored and Wall followed by winning a draw before finding attacker Anna Maria Gragnani, who extended the Dragons’ lead to 3-1.

With 3:56 to go, the Seawolves sliced through Drexel’s defense with ease and attacker Alex Finn capitalized on her offense’s fluidity with a goal to cut Drexel’s lead in half.

Drexel attacking midfielder Corinne Bednarik found the top of Stony Brook’s cage on a free-position attempt with 2:02 left to chase goalkeeper Emily Manning from the game, but midfielder Ellie Masera brought the Seawolves back within a goal when she found twine under a minute later.

Initially, the second quarter appeared to be much of the same for the Dragons, as midfielder Molly Weygand kicked things off by beating goalkeeper Aaliyah Jones for a quick tally. However, Masera and midfielder Charlotte Verhulst shifted the tide for Stony Brook by combining to bury six unanswered goals to finish the half.

Masera started the rally off 4:40 into the second frame by knifing her way through three Drexel defenders before beating goalkeeper Jenika Cuocco with a shot into the bottom right corner of the net. Just 16 seconds later, Masera controlled a draw, stormed down the field and wired a shot home to complete her hat trick and tie the game at 5-5.

Just 54 seconds later, the Seawolves worked the ball around the perimeter of the Dragons’ defense before Masera found Verhulst in front of the net, where she scored to give Stony Brook its first lead of the game.

Immediately after, the duo combined for another goal, as Verhulst completed a give-and-go with Masera off a draw control. Verhulst went on to complete the natural hat trick just over a minute later before Masera rounded out the second-quarter scoring with a woman-up goal to make it 9-5.

Head coach Joe Spallina gushed over Masera’s all-around play.

​​”Ellie’s performance was extraordinary,” Spallina said in a postgame interview with Stony Brook Athletics. “One of the best I’ve seen dominating in so many facets of the game. She displayed why she is one of the best in the NCAA. She makes it all look easy,”

Within the first six minutes of the second half, the Seawolves outscored the Dragons 3-1 to make it 12-6. Despite the six-goal deficit, Drexel made things interesting with a scoring surge late in the third quarter.

With 4:26 remaining, Bednarik bagged a woman-up goal and midfielder Maddie Fowler netted another a minute later. Just 39 seconds later, Bednarik emerged from the X, cut to the middle and completed her hat trick to cut Stony Brook’s lead to three goals.

Hart ended the third quarter with a goal, but Weygand got it right back early in the fourth. However, the Seawolves closed out the contest on a 7-1 run — which included a behind-the-back goal by Masera — to seal it at 18-11.

Following the win, Spallina had high praise for his team and the way it handled a long road trip.

“Great road win against a very good Drexel team,” Spallina said. “I thought that our team came out and survived an early Drexel run and responded like a veteran team should. Our draw team was the difference today in securing possessions allowing us to play — make it, take it. This was a long road trip for us, one that allowed our team to bond as well as play some high-level lacrosse. It was a great week for us with three good wins.”

Eight different Stony Brook players found the back of the net in the win. Masera led the team with seven goals, while Hart and Verhulst recorded hat tricks. Finn alongside midfielders Alexandra Fusco, Isabella Caporuscio, Erin MacQuarrie and Molly LaForge all tallied a goal apiece.

Masera also captured five assists on Sunday for a total of 12 points, which set a new single-game career-high for her. Hart picked up two helpers, while MacQuarrie, Finn, attacker Courtney Maclay and midfielder Jaden Hampel all registered one each.

Bednarik led the Dragons in scoring with a hat trick and an assist. Weygand also netted a hat trick.

Defender Avery Hines led the team with three ground balls and three caused turnovers. Masera and Verhulst controlled 13 and six draws, respectively.

On the other side of the field, defenders Caroline Johnston and Belle McHugh were the rocks of the Dragons’ defense with three ground balls each. McHugh also caused three turnovers. Bednarik and Gragnani chipped in with four draw controls apiece.

Despite the victory, the Seawolves did not perform well in the cage. Manning started the game but only saved one of the five shots she faced. Jones entered in relief before the end of the first quarter and allowed seven goals on eight shots.

Cuocco played the entire game for Drexel and made 13 saves on 31 shots.

Stony Brook dominated the game offensively, outshooting the Dragons 35-15 and 31-13 on goal. The Seawolves also won the draw control battle 21-12 and finished with a +8 (19-11) turnover differential. The team caused nine turnovers to Drexel’s seven, but the Dragons scooped up 13 ground balls to Stony Brook’s 12.

The Seawolves will now return to Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium to take on the Hofstra Pride in the Battle of Long Island. Hostra is also undefeated in conference play, posting a 6-0 record against CAA teams and it is 9-5 overall. Opening draw is set for noon on Sunday.

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