What a difference a half can make.
The Stony Brook women’s lacrosse team entered halftime with a three-goal advantage in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. It was the Seawolves’ first game since April 30 after being unable to play in the America East championships because of their move to the Colonial Athletic Association next season and they weren’t playing at their best over the opening 30 minutes.
But the second half looked like a Seawolves team local fans have been used to seeing over the last decade.
Stony Brook defeated Drexel, 16-4, at LaValle Stadium on Friday afternoon to advance to the second round of the women’s lacrosse NCAA Tournament. The Seawolves outscored Drexel, 9-0, in the second half.
“I think in the second half,” coach Joe Spallina said, “the country got a chance to see what the real Stony Brook team looks like.”
Stony Brook (15-2) hosts Rutgers (16-4) at LaValle Stadium on Sunday at noon. The Scarlet Knights defeated St. Joseph's, 17-10, on Friday night.
Drexel finished 12-8.
Ellie Masera had five goals and an assist and Kailyn Hart added four goals in the victory.
“We’ve always had a Batman and Robin in this program as long as I’ve been here,” Spallina said. “We have that with these two. They are special athletes, both of them. Every game, whoever we are playing is doing all they can to prepare for these two and it doesn’t matter. They produce.”
Masera had three goals in the second half, including striking 1:46 into the third quarter to start the Stony Brook run. Jaden Hampel, who had two goals and two assists, scored 35 seconds later to give the Seawolves a 9-4 lead.
Morgan Mitchell also finished with two goals and two assists.
“We kind of skyrocketed and we built off of that,” Masera said. “It’s a team effort and I was really proud of us.”
This is Stony Brook’s ninth straight season in the NCAA Tournament. Stony Brook, the No. 8 seed, is still chasing its first trip to the national semifinals after reaching the quarterfinals three of the last four seasons.
“That just speaks to who we are, the type of program we are,” Spallina said. “I think we have a chip on our shoulder. I think we were seeded wrong and every step of the way, we’re here to just do what we do. We’re blocking out the noise, we don’t care what our name says on a piece of paper, we’re just going to win every game we can.”
Draw controls and defensive play were the keys to Stony Brook’s separation in the second half. Stony Brook won 7 of 10 draw controls in the half and caused 17 turnovers in the game.
“In the second half, once we started to get draws, we knew if they were going to do their part on offense, we had to do our part defensively,” defender Clare Levy said. “And shut them down.”
Stony Brook had seven goal scorers and nine players record at least one point.
“I think our whole team brought our effort up,” Masera said. “It didn’t really matter who scored, I ended up with five [goals], Hart ended with four. It didn’t really matter who scored, I just ended up being at the end of the rainbow, as we say.”