One of Just Four Times All Season Stony Brook Has Been Held Under 13 Goals
STONY BROOK, N.Y. – Stony Brook's high-powered offense nearly met its match Wednesday afternoon with the Yale women's lacrosse team in town. The Bulldogs managed to limit the NCAA's leading scorer to just one assist, and allowed only eight goals from the field. But Stony Brook also scored four goals on free position shots, and that ultimately made the difference as the Seawolves edged the Bulldogs 12-8 at LaValle Stadium. Sophomore attacker Jen DeVito led Yale with four goals.
Other than Yale, the list of teams that have held Stony Brook to fewer than 13 goals this year is a short one: No. 6 Duke, No. 5 Florida and No. 4 Maryland. The Seawolves entered the day averaging nearly 15 goals per game, and had racked up 91 goals in their five-game winning streak.
The Bulldogs built their defensive game plan around a series of matchups, with one crucial one resting squarely on the shoulders of a freshman. Stony Brook attacker Claire Petersen entered the day leading the NCAA in points per game (6.73), having already established the team single-season records in assists (43) and points (74). She was coming off a 10-point day against Vermont. But with freshman defender Jayne Flynn on her Wednesday, Petersen was limited to just one assist.
"Jayne kept Petersen almost completely out of the mix," said Anne Phillips, Yale's Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Women's Lacrosse. "She limited Petersen's effectiveness from behind the cage, and it essentially became a 6-on-6 game. That was important."
Stony Brook scored five times in the first 18 minutes of the game, making it look like the Bulldogs would be in for a long day. But Yale hung tough, with goals from junior attacker Devon Rhodes (assisted by DeVito), freshman attacker Kerri Fleishhacker (assisted by senior attacker Caroline Crow) and DeVito (assisted by freshman midfielder Cathryn Avallone) enabling the Bulldogs to stay within striking distance.
The assists were also a part of Yale's game plan, as the Bulldogs knew that driving on Stony Brook's defense would be tough. Crow saw her goal-scoring streak end at eight games, but she still has a point-scoring streak going after notching four assists Wednesday.
"We were scoring on their high-pressure zone inside," said Phillips. "This was a team you couldn't drive on. We had to pass into the zone. Caroline became a feeder to create opportunities for her teammates."
Yale wound up with multiple chances to cut the deficit to one as the first half wore on, with sophomore goalkeeper Erin McMullan making some key saves at the other end of the field (she finished with nine for the game). Rhodes just missed putting in a pass from Crow right in front of the goal with nine minutes left, and two minutes later Stony Brook keeper Frankie Caridi made a nice save on Rhodes' shot after a pass from Avallone.
With slightly more than two minutes to play, DeVito just missed converting a pass from Rhodes and Rhodes then hit the post, making it look as if Yale would remain stuck at three goals heading into the second half. But after a save by McMullan, DeVito scored off a Crow feed with 13 seconds left to pull Yale within 5-4 at the break.
The Bulldogs got possession to start the second half, but turned the ball over before they could tie the game. Midfielder Janine Hillier then scored on a free position shot to extend the Seawolves' lead to 6-4 with 28 minutes left.
With 27:18 to play, while saving a shot by DeVito, Caridi went down with an injury and left the game. She was replaced by Hannah Perruccio.
Stony Brook (11-3, 3-0 America East) scored again (midfielder Michelle Rubino) to get some breathing room at 7-4, but Yale (3-8, 0-4 Ivy League) continued to hang around. DeVito fed Rhodes from the side of the cage, and Rhodes used some quick stick handling to keep the ball away from the defense before depositing her 15th goal of the year with 22:27 to play.
But Stony Brook scored off the ensuing draw control, then extended the lead with a free position goal two minutes later.
DeVito kept the pressure on by scoring off a Crow assist with 18:52 left. But a minute after that Perruccio denied a free position shot by DeVito that could have pulled Yale within two, and the Seawolves eventually went up 10-6 on a free position goal by Kaitlyn Harrison with 16 minutes to play.
A spectacular save by McMullan denied a spinning Hillier from right in front of the cage shortly after that, but Hillier eventually got the lead to 11-6 with her 39th goal of the year at 6:57.
With five minutes left, Crow drew a foul and then fed DeVito after the re-start for a goal that pulled Yale within 11-7. But 30 seconds later a Yale turnover gave the Seawolves a chance at a fast break, and that ended with Hillier feeding midfielder Demmianne Cook to increase the lead back to five. That was Cook's fourth goal of the day and 55th of the season.
Fleishhacker curled around from behind the cage and fired one in to get Yale within four with 2:33 to play, and the Bulldogs called timeout. They got the draw but turned the ball over in front of the SBU net with less than two minutes to play, enabling the Seawolves to run some more time off the clock. Yale got the ball back in the final 30 seconds but turned it over again in the SBU zone, and the Seawolves finished off the win to improve to 7-1 at home.
"We knew that No. 1 (Rubino) likes to draw to herself," said Phillips. "Sabine can offset that. We put Reilly on the offensive side and Christina on the defensive side of the draw circle, and they had to outreach and outmuscle people to the ball. That gave us some possessions that we really needed."
DeVito now has 11 goals and 16 points in the last four games.
"Jen is a feeder/finisher," said Phillips. "When she's not feeding, she can score. When she's behind the cage, she can feed."
With a pair of Ivy League games coming up, including Saturday's Senior Day game vs. Columbia at Reese Stadium, the Bulldogs hope to take some momentum from Wednesday's effort.
"Stony Brook is a team that has been scoring in the high teens and 20s," said Phillips. "They are physical, talented and fast, and they have put teams away. They couldn't do that to us today. Our defense was amazing, and Erin McMullan played well in goal again. We have started to play up to our potential and play for the full 60 minutes. I'm proud of how we played."
Report by Sam Rubin '95 (firstname.lastname@example.org), Yale Sports Publicity