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No. 14 Stony Brook women’s lacrosse set to face No. 3 Syracuse with Elite Eight on the line

Players from the Stony Brook women’s lacrosse team celebrate a goal against Drexel on Saturday, May 4. The Seawolves will take on Syracuse with a spot in the Elite Eight on the line. STANLEY ZHENG/THE STATESMAN

After a dominant performance in the first round of the 2024 NCAA women’s lacrosse tournament, the No. 14 Stony Brook women’s lacrosse team will look to survive and advance again against a familiar foe.

Just over two months ago, the then-undefeated Seawolves (18-2, 8-0 CAA) marched into John Mezzalingua Associates Wireless Dome and upset the No. 3 Syracuse Orange (14-5, 8-1 ACC). Now, the two sides will cross paths again in a matchup with much higher stakes. As the tournament’s third seed, Syracuse will host Stony Brook once more, this time at the SU Soccer Stadium. Opening draw is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Sunday.

The Seawolves earned an automatic bid to the national tournament by sweeping the Coastal Athletic Association (CAA). Conversely, the Orange were granted an at-large bid after they fell to Boston College in the Atlantic Coast Conference’s (ACC) title game.

Although the teams contain several stars across the field, questions about both squads’ goalkeeping situations are warranted, especially in Stony Brook’s case.

It appeared that goalkeeper Aaliyah Jones had the Seawolves’ starting job secured until she struggled during her last outing. Jones was pulled against Niagara in favor of Emily Manning after conceding two goals in the first quarter without making a save. Manning capitalized on the opportunity, as she stopped five shots and allowed just two goals in over 32 minutes of play.

On the season, Jones is seventh in the CAA in save percentage (.405) while Manning is eighth with a .394 mark. However, whoever tends the goal has not faced much traffic, as Stony Brook’s stout defense allows just 12.9 shots on goal per game. 

Overall, the Seawolves concede the fewest goals per game (7.75) in their conference and rank second in the nation in scoring defense. Stony Brook’s defensive prowess stems from its ability to cause turnovers. Opponents turn the ball over 17.95 times a game against the Seawolves while they cause the third-most turnovers per game (9.15) in their league.

Defender Avery Hines is the lynchpin of Stony Brook’s endline and accounts for over a third of the team’s caused turnovers per game. She causes 3.15 turnovers per game, which ranks second in the CAA and fourth in the nation. Hines has totaled 63 caused turnovers — already the Seawolves’ program record for a single year — alongside 41 ground balls. She is 10th in her conference with 2.05 ground balls per game.

In her first season as a starter, Hines earned selections to the 2024 All-CAA First Team and the 2024 USA Lacrosse Magazine All-American Third Team.

Another integral figure to Stony Brook’s defensive success is defender Clare Levy, who is the team’s most versatile player due to her consistent contributions in all three facets of lacrosse. The 2024 All-CAA Second Team and 2024 USA Lacrosse Magazine All-American Second Team honoree has posted 13 caused turnovers and 34 ground balls this year to go with nine goals and five assists. Levy is also one of the three members of the Seawolves’ primary draw unit and has controlled 56 draws.

Next to Hines and Levy, defenders McKenzie Mitchell and Rachel Rosenberg roundup Stony Brook’s starting endline. The two have put up similar figures this season and have combined for 23 caused turnovers and 24 ground balls.

The first defender off the bench for the Seawolves is Jordan Forte, who has notched three caused turnovers and 13 ground balls. Alongside Forte, Stony Brook’s defense is aided by two-way midfielders Erin MacQuarrie and Alexandra Fusco.

MacQuarrie is questionable for Sunday with a lower-body injury. If she is able to play, the Seawolves will be gaining a player that has tallied seven goals, seven assists, 11 caused turnovers and 29 ground balls this season. If MacQuarrie is unavailable, Fusco will likely take her spot in the starting lineup like she did in the team’s tournament opener. Fusco has registered 10 goals, five assists, 10 caused turnovers and 17 ground balls.

On the other side of the field, Syracuse’s defense is similarly strong, as it allows the third-fewest goals per game in the ACC (9.68). Furthermore, the Orange are even better than Stony Brook at causing turnovers, as they cause 9.95 turnovers per game — which puts them at first in their conference.

Syracuse’s endline is anchored by defender Katie Goodale, who was named to the 2024 All-ACC First Team and the 2024 USA Lacrosse Magazine All-American First Team. She has caused 43 turnovers and picked up 38 ground balls this year. Goodale leads her league and is 10th in the nation in caused turnovers per game (2.39) and is fifth in the ACC with 2.11 ground balls per game.

The Orange have stuck with their five defensive starters throughout the whole season. Alongside Goodale, defenders Kaci Benoit — a 2024 ACC All-Freshman Team selectee — Coco Vandiver, Hallie Simkins and Bianca Chevarie shield Syracuse’s net. Each member of the quartet that compliments Goodale has posted double-digits in both caused turnovers and ground balls. Overall, they have combined for 66 caused turnovers and 94 ground balls.

Chevarie also holds real estate in her conference’s leaderboards, as she is 10th in caused turnovers per game (1.32) and sixth in ground balls per game (1.95). She was picked to the 2024 All-ACC Second Team and was a 2024 All-American Honorable Mention by USA Lacrosse Magazine.

Midfielder Joely Caramelli chips in to help the Orange’s endline off the bench. The ACC All-Freshman Team member has tallied 10 caused turnovers and eight ground balls in her first collegiate season. She has also helped out offensively with nine goals and a pair of assists.

Contrary to the Seawolves, there is no doubt as to who will serve as Syracuse’s last line of defense in their matchup. Despite going through a down season by her standards, goalkeeper Delaney Sweitzer is as complete of a netminder as a team can ask for. She is eighth in her league in both save percentage (.408) and saves per game (6.16) but has made noise elsewhere. Sweitzer has caused 21 turnovers and scooped up 46 ground balls this year. She is second in the ACC with 2.42 ground balls per game and was named to the All-ACC Second Team.

Despite Sweitzer’s contributions from the cage, Stony Brook is the slightly more proficient team on the ground. It sits fifth in the CAA with 15.50 ground balls per game, while the Orange are seventh in their conference with 14.79 ground balls per game.

However, Syracuse flips the script on the Seawolves in the center circle. Its .604 draw control percentage — which ranks ninth in the nation — is greater than Stony Brook’s .581 mark. Additionally, the Orange are second in their league with 17.11 draw controls per game compared to the Seawolves’ 15.30 — which is second in the CAA.

Midfielder Kate Mashewske — who is also a draw specialist and arguably the best draw taker in the nation — spearheads Syracuse’s efforts on draws. She ranks first in the ACC and fifth in the nation with 9.74 draw controls per game. Mashewske has totaled 185 draw controls this season. She was named to the All-ACC First Team and was a USA Lacrosse Magazine All-American Honorable Mention.

Other players featured in the center circle for the Orange include Goodale and midfielders Natalie Smith and Emma Muchnick, who have all controlled 20 or more draws.

Contrarily, Levy alongside midfielders Ellie Masera and Charlotte Verhulst will be tasked with slowing down Mashewske. As Stony Brook’s primary draw taker, Verhulst will be challenged by Mashewske the most. She will look to add to her 66 draw controls this year.

Verhulst would also fare well in setting up Masera, who is already the Seawolves’ single-season leader in draw controls with 141 and counting. She places second in her conference with 7.83 draw controls per game. 

Masera headlines Stony Brook’s potent offense as well. It is first in its league and eighth in the nation with 15.90 goals per game. The Seawolves also lead the CAA in shots per game (34.60) and assists per game (9.35), ranking sixth and first in the nation in each category, respectively. 

Stony Brook’s leading scorer is Masera, who has already achieved single-season career highs in both goals (75) and assists (39) despite missing two contests. The Tewaaraton Award Finalist leads her conference and is second in the nation in goals per game (4.17) and is third in her league with 2.17 assists per game. The nation’s leader in points (114) was named the 2024 CAA Midfielder of the Year and, consequently, to the All-CAA First Team alongside the USA Lacrosse Magazine’s All-American First Team. Additionally, she became the CAA’s single-season points leader last time out. 

Other All-CAA First Team recognitions on the Seawolves’ frontline include attackers Kailyn Hart and Alex Finn. The two were also All-American Honorable Mentions by USA Lacrosse Magazine but play different roles within Stony Brook’s attack.

Hart is a pure scorer, as she is second on the team with 70 goals alongside 17 assists. She is second in the CAA with 3.68 goals per game. Conversely, Finn is the Seawolves’ primary facilitator. She has done most of her work — which includes 32 goals and 53 assists — from the X. Finn leads her conference with 2.65 assists per game.

Accompanying her skills on draws, Verhulst is another weapon for Stony Brook’s attack. The All-CAA Second Team and USA Lacrosse Magazine All-American Honorable Mention selectee has scored 41 goals and dished out 17 assists this year. 

Attacker Morgan Mitchell and midfielder Jaden Hampel are starters that contribute to the Seawolves’ offensive firepower. Though the duo has had a lower output than last season, they both possess experience in big games that the Seawolves will need on Sunday. They have combined for 27 goals and 17 assists. Hampel was named to the All-CAA Second Team.

Stony Brook’s top scoring option off the bench is attacker Courtney Maclay, who has scored 14 goals to go with three assists. Attacker Jolie Creo and midfielder Isabella Caporuscio have also put up numbers this year. Creo has tallied six goals and nine assists. While she might not receive much playing time, Caporuscio certainly will. The 2024 CAA All-Rookie Team member has posted nine goals and three assists.

The Seawolves play a relatively clean brand of lacrosse, as they turn the ball over just 11.50 times a game — the second-fewest in their league and the nation. On the other hand, Syracuse is less disciplined in that regard, as it commits the fourth-most turnovers per game (14.37) in the ACC.

Nonetheless, the Orange’s attack is nearly as ferocious as Stony Brook’s. They score 15.47 times a game, which ranks third in their conference. Syracuse also fires off the third-most shots per game (32.89) in its league but gives out the fourth-fewest assists per game (6.47).

The Orange’s offense is led by a pair of All-ACC First Team attackers in Emma Tyrrell and Olivia Adamson. Tyrrell — a USA Lacrosse Magazine All-American Second Team selection — has tallied 58 goals and 18 assists this season. She is fifth in the ACC with 3.05 goals per game.

Adamson was picked to the USA Lacrosse Magazine’s All-American Third Team and has posted 51 goals and 21 assists. She is ninth in her conference in goals per game (2.68).

Attacker Emma Ward orchestrates Syracuse’s offense. She leads her team with 31 assists and has also scored 38 times. The All-ACC Second Team honoree and USA Lacrosse Magazine All-American Honorable Mention is sixth in her league with 1.63 assists per game.

Smith is another high-volume scorer for the Orange, as she has registered 39 goals alongside six assists and was also named to the All-ACC Second Team. Midfielder Maddy Baxter contributes both ways for Syracuse but majorly on the attacking end. She has put up 28 goals and five assists this year alongside 11 caused turnovers and 10 ground balls.

The Orange’s offensive depth is superior to the Seawolves’ due to their bench presence. Muchnick, attacker Payton Rowley and midfielder Savannah Sweitzer are all double-digit goalscorers for Syracuse that begin games on the sidelines. The trio has combined for 57 goals and 33 assists.

Both sides tend to struggle on free-position opportunities. However, the Orange fare better than Stony Brook in that department, as their .487 free position percentage trumps the Seawolves’ .440 mark.

Nonetheless, Stony Brook’s special team units have been far superior to Syracuse’s. The Seawolves lead the CAA in both woman-up goals per game (2.40) and woman-down goals per game (.50). Contrarily, the Orange are fourth in the ACC in woman-up goals per game (1.95) and seventh in woman-down goals per game (.11).

Although the Seawolves and 2024 CAA Coach of the Year Joe Spallina organized a moderately difficult strength of schedule, Syracuse has faced off against nine ranked opponents compared to Stony Brook’s four, which is reflected in the statistics. Still, the Seawolves have shown that they can compete at the highest level and potentially upset the Orange yet again.

The winner of Sunday’s affair will advance to the 2024 NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight, where they will play the winner between No. 6 Yale — the tournament’s sixth seed — and No. 11 Johns Hopkins.

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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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