Stony Brook celebrates its win in the CAA women’s lacrosse...

Stony Brook celebrates its win in the CAA women’s lacrosse final against Drexel on Saturday May 4, 2024. Credit: Bob Sorensen

Stony Brook has operated with something resembling ruthless, remorseless, machine-like efficiency over the course of its 2024 season.

The Seawolves did so again Saturday afternoon and punched its ticket to the NCAA women’s lacrosse tournament in the process.

Which is the expectation for the program.

“We don’t talk about winning the conference title to be very honest and it’s not a knock on the conference. It’s just, for me, I want the bar as high as possible,” coach Joe Spallina said after his top-seeded Seawolves outlasted second-seed Drexel, 9-6, in the CAA women’s lacrosse championship game at LaValle Stadium.

“Our goal is to win a national championship,” Spallina said.

Ellie Masera recorded a hat trick. Kailyn Hart added two goals, and Morgan Mitchell, Erin MacQuarrie, Clare Levy, and Charlotte Verhulst also scored for the Seawolves. Aaliyah Jones was credited with two saves.

Masera was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.

With its 12th straight win, Stony Brook finished the regular season with an overall record of 17-2. The Seawolves’ last loss occurred on Mar. 11, an 8-7 loss to Denver.

Stony Brook has now won the CAA championship in back-to-back years, and qualifies for the NCAA Tournament for the 11th straight year.

The win also guaranteed Stony Brook would not have to sweat out Sunday night’s selection show on ESPN 2 (9 P.M.).

“This team is going to be a really tough out in the NCAA Tournament,” Spallina said.

Entering the game, Stony Brook’s 16.1 goals scored per game average ranked eighth in the nation, while Drexel’s 8.75 goals allowed per game was 12th in the nation.

“Not the result that we wanted but super proud of the game we just played out there,” Dragons coach Katie O’Donnell said. “Defense was locked down for the majority of the game [and] offense was answering back when we needed them to. Made a lot of stops, put some balls in the back of the net. Just had a couple hiccups here and there.”

Those hiccups lasted the final 21:54 of the game.

Because, truth be told, Drexel played as close to a perfect opening 38:06 as could be hoped for. Defensively, the Dragons collapsed around Sound Beach’s Jenika Cuocco (17 saves) in order to limit shooting lanes for the Seawolves.

Offensively, the Dragons’ continuous movement around the goal created scoring opportunities. Kate Marano and Allison Drake led Drexel (13-5) with two goals apiece, and Bridget Finley finished with a goal.

Trailing 5-3 after Finley scored, the Seawolves responded by scoring six times in a span of 9:56 between the third and fourth quarters to turn the deficit into a 9-5 lead.

“There [was] no panic,” Spallina said about his team’s mindset prior to the game-deciding 6-0 spurt. “We’ve been in every situation.”

Verhulst’s goal with 3:23 left in the third gave Stony Brook its first lead of 6-5. Masera’s hat-trick goal 34 seconds into the fourth quarter put Stony Brook ahead for good. MacQuarrie (2:36) and Mitchell (3:02) added tack-on goals 26 seconds apart for the Seawolves. Drake’s second goal of the game with 9:05 left in the fourth ended the scoring.


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