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No. 13/15 Stony Brook women’s lacrosse wins back-to-back CAA regular-season titles

Attacker Alex Finn (43) looks on as midfielder Ellie Masera (12) prepares to take a behind-the-back shot against Hofstra on Sunday, April 21. Masera and Finn co-led the Stony Brook women’s lacrosse team with seven points each in its CAA-clinching victory. BRITTNEY DIETZ/THE STATESMAN

For a second-straight season, the No. 13/15 Stony Brook women’s lacrosse team defeated its crosstown rival to clinch the Coastal Athletic Association (CAA) regular season title.

In the 15th edition of the Battle of Long Island, the Seawolves (14-2, 8-0 CAA) dominated the Hofstra Pride (9-6, 6-1 CAA) at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium on Sunday. Stony Brook completed an 18-5 smackdown on the back of an explosive offensive effort.

After turning the ball over on the Seawolves’ opening attacking set, attacker Alex Finn made amends immediately. On the next Stony Brook possession, she received the ball at the X and went to work. Finn executed a left-to-right dodge to leave Hofstra defender Ashlyn McDonald in the dust, wrapped around the right side of the cage and fired a low shot to open the scoring.

On the Seawolves’ next approach, Finn — once again from the X — zeroed in on attacker Courtney Maclay cutting towards the net. She released a pass in sync with Maclay’s movement, which gave her time to handle the ball and place a shot past Hofstra goalkeeper Luchianna Cardello to double Stony Brook’s lead.

Opponents’ underestimation of Finn’s ability to make plays with the ball in her stick have allowed her the chance to do just that.

“A lot of teams have noticed that I’m a big feeder, so the defenders up top are turning their backs to me and don’t honor me as a dodger,” Finn said in a postgame press conference. “I took that opportunity to dodge the net.”

After attacker Kailyn Hart and midfielder Charlotte Verhulst added to the Seawolves’ advantage, the Pride got on the board with 2:57 left in the first quarter through attacker Lauren Coletti. However, Stony Brook responded with three unanswered goals between the end of the period and the start of the second frame.

The last tally of the sequence came thanks to Finn. Despite being a woman down, the Seawolves earned a free-position attempt. Instead of taking a shot from the left hash of the second home, midfielder Ellie Masera fed Finn, who was cutting in from behind the goal. With no defenders in her vicinity, Finn had the time to fake high, then low before going high again on Cardello to make it 7-1.

Although Hofstra got a goal back four minutes later, Stony Brook gave it no time to breathe, as it ripped off three consecutive goals to put it up 10-2 at halftime.

Following the break, the Pride came out hot in the second half. On their first attacking set of the third quarter, attacker Taylor Mennella scored to cut her team’s deficit to seven. However, Masera took over soon after.

With 12:21 remaining in the period and on the offensive end, the Seawolves worked the ball counter-clockwise until it found Verhulst outside of the 12-meter fan. From there, she looped a pass into Masera, who had cut into the scoring area. Masera received the ball with her back towards the cage, moved to her right and fired a high shot that raddled the net.

Four minutes later, she scored twice in a 56-second span — including a behind-the-back goal. Hart followed Masera’s tallies with a pair of goals of her own before Coletti grabbed some consolation at the end of the frame to make it 15-4 through 45 minutes.

Stony Brook also tallied the first three goals of the fourth quarter before Hofstra got one back with 1:31 left in the contest.

Head coach Joe Spallina appreciated clinching the regular season title in the Battle of Long Island.

“I do think today’s game meant a little bit more,” Spallina said. “Just with the local teams and us having familiarity with Hofstra. Obviously, knowing both schools are competitive against each other in a lot of sports.”

The Seawolves outshot their rivals 35-12. They controlled 18 draws compared to the Pride’s seven and their turnover differential was +2 (13-11). Stony Brook also won the ground ball battle 18-12.

Masera posted five goals and a pair of assists to give her 15 goals and 10 assists in the past three games. She attributed her recent play to her tandem with Hart.

“When I’m being overplayed on the right side, it opens a lot up for Hart,” Masera said. “The next game, they’re going to overplay Hart because [she] had however many points. So, I think it’s just a back-and-forth. They’re either going to overplay Hart or they’re going to overplay me.”

Finn tied a season-high with four goals to go alongside a trio of assists, while Hart scored five times. To round out the scoring for the Seawolves, Maclay had a pair of goals, while Verhulst and attacker Morgan Mitchell tallied one each.

Verhulst also dished out three assists. Mitchell and attacker Jolie Creo had two assists apiece. Midfielders Jaden Hampel and Alexandra Fusco gave out an assist each.

Defender Avery Hines caused five turnovers and scooped up two ground balls.

Spallina said defender Clare Levy will return to the lineup next time out after missing the previous three contests with a knee injury she suffered against Rutgers.

Goalkeeper Emily Manning was not busy in her three quarters of action. She saved a pair of shots and allowed four goals. She was replaced by goalkeeper Aaliyah Jones in the final period, who made no stops and allowed a goal.

Conversely, Cardello played all 60 minutes and made 10 saves for a .357 save percentage.

Midfielder Kerry Walser led Hofstra’s attack with two goals and an assist.

Before the 2024 CAA women’s lacrosse tournament will commence, the Seawolves play the No. 18/19 Stanford Cardinal in their regular season finale at LaValle Stadium on Thursday, April 25. The Cardinal are 10-3 this season and are coming off a 21-8 win over UC Davis. Opening draw is set for 3 p.m.

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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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