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No. 13/15 Stony Brook women’s lacrosse hosts Hofstra in high-stakes Battle of Long Island

Midfielder Erin MacQuarrie (20) and defender Avery Hines (13) defend the cage alongside goalkeeper Emily Manning (40) against Rutgers on Tuesday, April 9. The Seawolves will be back at home on Sunday to take on Hofstra with a chance to clinch their conference’s regular season title. BRITTNEY DIETZ/THE STATESMAN

With first place in the Coastal Athletic Association (CAA) standings on the line, the No. 13/15 Stony Brook women’s lacrosse team will hope to continue its recent dominance over its crosstown rival.

The Seawolves (13-2, 7-0 CAA) will carry their six-game winning streak over the Hofstra Pride (9-5, 6-0 CAA) to their contest at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium on Sunday. With both teams yet to lose in conference play and two weeks left in the regular season, the upcoming Battle of Long Island will determine the first seed for the 2024 CAA championship. Opening draw is set for noon.

After winning just one conference game last season, Hofstra’s bounceback year has been largely in part due to its rejuvenated offense. In 2023, it finished fifth in the league with 10.75 goals per game. This season, the Pride are second in the CAA with 13.43 goals per game.

The trio of attackers Melissa Sconone, Taylor Mennella and Kerry Walser have headlined Hofstra’s attack. Sconone — who transferred from North Carolina in the offseason — is the only player in the conference to break both the 30 goal and 30 assist thresholds, posting 33 goals and 31 assists this season.

Sconone is 10th in the league in goals per game (2.36) and third in assists per game (2.21). Mennella is also a dual-threat weapon, as she has tallied 32 goals and 21 assists. She sits at eighth in the CAA with 2.80 goals per game and 10th with 1.10 assists per game.

Walser is Hofstra’s leading scorer with 41 goals alongside nine assists. She ranks fourth in the conference with 2.93 goals per game.

Other high-impact contributors up front for the Pride include first-year attackers Nikki Mennella and Kristen Redding. The tandem has combined for 43 goals and 22 assists this season. Mennella has mostly been featured in the starting lineup, while Redding has come in off the bench.

Another offensive weapon for Hofstra that begins games on the sidelines is attacker Lauren Coletti. She has put up 15 goals and five assists.

The Pride have played clean lacrosse this year, which bodes well for them, as they will face a suffocating Stony Brook defense. Hofstra’s 11.50 turnovers per game are the fewest in the league. Conversely, the Seawolves are third in the CAA with 9.07 caused turnovers per game.

Defender Avery Hines has much to do with Stony Brook’s strong numbers on that end of the field. She anchors the best endline in the conference and the fifth-best group in the nation — as the Seawolves concede just 8.20 goals per game — with 40 caused turnovers and 30 ground balls. Hines is second in the league and tied for fifth in the nation with 2.67 caused turnovers per game.

In front of Hines from Stony Brook’s defense is typically defender Clare Levy, who has been integral in all three facets of the game for the Seawolves. She is second on the team in ground balls (23), third in caused turnovers (nine) and joint second in draw controls (49). Levy is ninth in the CAA with 3.77 draw controls per game.

Stony Brook’s do-it-all defender has also chipped in on the attack with eight goals and four assists. However, Levy has missed the previous two contests following a non-contact knee injury she suffered against Rutgers. Despite her X-ray coming back negative, the severity of the injury suggests she will be out again.

Still, Hines will have backup in the way of defenders McKenzie Mitchell, Rachel Rosenberg and Jordan Forte. As a trio, they have caused 22 turnovers and scooped up 27 ground balls.

The last line of defense for the Seawolves will be between goalkeepers Emily Manning and Aaliyah Jones. The pair had a rough time during their last time out, as they combined to allow 11 goals and save only two shots.

Although she was statistically the worst out of the two against Drexel, Jones has posted the better numbers this season. She is sixth in the conference with a .462 save percentage compared to Manning’s .359 mark, which is 11th in the league — the worst out of all qualified goalkeepers.

Conversely, there is not as much doubt — if any at all — of who will serve as Hofstra’s goalkeeper on Sunday. Goalkeeper Luchianna Cardello has been rock solid for the Pride in net this year. She ranks fourth in the CAA in save percentage (.481) and saves per game (8.14).

Ahead of Cardello, Hofstra’s defense has also improved this season — although to a lesser degree than its offense. The Pride are fourth in the conference with 9.86 goals allowed per game.

More often than not, Hofstra employs five defenders in its starting lineup. Its endline is made up of defenders Christine Dannenfelser, Trinity Reed, Brynn Hepting, Ashlyn McDonald and Alexandra Moss.

Dannenfelser — another first-year player who has made a significant impact from the jump for the Pride — is the team’s biggest playmaker on defense. She has caused 19 turnovers and picked up 32 ground balls. Dannenfelser is fifth in the league in caused turnovers (1.36) and ground balls per game (2.29).

Reed has posted nine caused turnovers and 30 ground balls. Alongside her defensive prowess, Reed is crucial to Hofstra’s draw unit, as she has controlled 44 draws. Hepting, McDonald and Moss have combined to cause 19 turnovers and scoop up 36 ground balls.

Midfielder Kate Fiola has been a big help to the Pride’s endline. She has notched 15 caused turnovers and 29 ground balls all while putting up numbers on the attacking end as well. Fiola has tallied six goals and five assists.

As all CAA teams experience, Hofstra will have to go through the juggernaut that is Stony Brook’s offense to secure an upset. It leads the conference with 16.27 goals, 9.53 assists and 34 shots per game. The Seawolves have the fifth highest-scoring attack in the nation.

Midfielder Ellie Masera is Stony Brook’s star. Despite missing two games, she leads the league and is ninth in the nation with 56 goals alongside 25 assists. Masera is first in the CAA and third in the nation with 4.31 goals per game. She is also fifth in the conference with 1.92 assists per game.

Masera is coming off a career day during her last outing, as she racked up a single-game, career-high 12 points (seven goals and five assists) against Drexel.

Throughout their careers, Masera and attacker Kailyn Hart have been “Batman and Batman” according to head coach Joe Spallina. However, that has never been more visible than this season. Hart has tallied 52 goals and 15 assists and is second in the league with 3.71 goals per game.

Attacker Alex Finn has been a great addition this year to the already stacked Seawolves’ attack. She has been the team’s leading facilitator with 46 assists to go with 23 goals. Finn sits first in the CAA and eighth in the nation with 3.07 assists per game.

Midfielder Charlotte Verhulst’s numbers have been improving every season, but they have taken a major jump this year. She has scored 34 times, assisted 12 times and controlled 49 draws as the team’s principal draw taker. Verhulst has also made some splash plays defensively with eight caused turnovers and 15 ground balls.

Stony Brook’s only other double-digit goalscorers are attacker Courtney Maclay and midfielder Jaden Hampel. Maclay has posted 11 goals and three assists off the bench and Hampel has put up 10 goals and five assists while starting in eight of the 12 contests she has appeared in.

Attacker Morgan Mitchell is a shoo-in starter for a second straight season but has seen her numbers take a major dip. After 43 goals and 20 assists in 2023, she has notched just nine goals and five assists this year.

Although the Seawolves do not utilize as many first-year players as the Pride, they do have midfielder Isabella Caporuscio. She has played all 15 games — with seven starts — and has netted eight goals and tallied three assists.

Midfielders Erin MacQuarrie and Alexandra Fusco are two-way players for Stony Brook. MacQuarrie is always at the top of Spallina’s depth chart and has notched six goals, five assists, seven caused turnovers and 17 ground balls.

Off the bench for the majority of contests, Fusco has posted six goals, three assists, eight caused turnovers and has also picked up 17 ground balls.

Another area where the Seawolves will have the advantage is draws. They rank second in the conference with 15.73 draw controls per game compared to Hofstra’s 11.79 — which puts them at seventh in the league.

Both sides’ top goalscorers are also their top weapons on draws. Masera has controlled 108 draws and is second in the CAA with 8.31 draw controls per game. Walser is third in the conference with 4.57 draw controls per game and has controlled 64 draws in total.

Like most of 2023 went for the Pride, they were roughed up against Stony Brook in last season’s Battle of Long Island. The Seawolves crushed Hofstra 18-6 to clinch the 2023 CAA regular season title.

With a much tighter matchup expected this time around, Stony Brook still holds the keys to victory and, consequently, back-to-back regular season championships.

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About the Contributor
Alex Streinger
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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