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Know Your Enemy: No. 20 Penn State Women’s Lacrosse vs. No. 10 Stony Brook Seawolves

No. 20 Penn State women’s lacrosse will make its 25th NCAA Tournament appearance and face off against No. 10 Stony Brook.

The Seawolves will likely prove to be a great test for the Nittany Lions, especially in transition as Stony Brook has outscored its opponents 261-133 this season.

The Nittany Lions will aim to improve their postseason record following a 14-8 loss to Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament. Penn State’s defense must secure control early and take control of the game during the first quarter, especially against a lethal offensive opponent like as Stony Brook.

With all that in mind, here’s a closer look at the Seawolves as Penn State hopes to advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Penn State Overview

The Nittany Lions had a breakthrough season and finished 3-3 in Big Ten play after finishing 0-6 in conference play in 2022. The team picked up several key wins throughout the season and fortified Panzer Stadium with an 8-1 home record. On the road, Penn State must bring the same kind of lockdown mentality to see out a win against Stony Brook.

While the Nittany Lions have been strong this season, they have also shown weakness, especially on the road. Penn State went 0-2 against Michigan, first in the regular season and then bested in the Big Ten Tournament. During both games, the Nittany Lions appeared to be a completely different team and failed to take control following the opening whistle.

Recently-dubbed third-team All-American Kristin O’Neill leads Penn State in points with 48 goals and eight assists. She’s been the offensive difference-maker for most of the season and especially since the Nittany Lions lost attacker Gretchen Gilmore to a season-ending injury.

Meghan Murray and freshman Emma Kelly have stepped up in the midfield to provide help in transition following the loss of Penn State’s key spark in Gilmore.

Stony Brook Overview

Stony Brook is one of the best teams in the country in finding the back of the net. The Seawolves are ranked 10th in points scored on offense per game with 15.35 and ranked fourth in points scored on defense per game with 7.82 within the NCAA.

The Seawolves had an impressive 14-3 overall record this season and maintained an undefeated record in conference play en route to a CAA Tournament victory. Stony Brook will enter the NCAA Tournament on a five-game win streak, and the group has outscored its opponents 89-33 within those previous five games.

Junior midfielder Ellie Masera leads the team in points with 67 goals and 20 assists, which makes her the fifth most lethal scorer in the NCAA at 3.94 goals per game. Masera played a dynamic role in the success of Stony Brook’s offense and has been a reason why the Seawolves have triumphed over opponents with such great margins.

Keys To The Game

The first major key to a win for the Penn State women’s lacrosse team is lights out defense starting at the first whistle. If the Nittany Lions lose a game, it usually happens in the first quarter due to a lethargic start combined with several losses from opening draws. Penn State must remain disciplined in the first quarter and prevent the Seawolves’ offense from having possession anywhere near the crease.

Once the Nittany Lions harness control of the game, they must transition the ball flawlessly up the field. O’Neill should control the middle of the field like she has previously during Penn State wins, while also finding the back of the net. Excessive turnovers on transition will be detrimental for the team as it will allow Stony Brook opportunities to have chances for fast breaks.

Finally, Penn State must be efficient in front of the net. Throughout the season, the Nittany Lions have almost always outshot their opponents, but struggled to convert key chances with a shot on frame. If the Nittany Lions’ offense is locked in where it counts in front of the net, it’s going to be a great night for Penn State.

Prediction

Penn State is 0-2 against Stony Brook since its last appearance in the NCAA Tournament, and despite an incredible performance this season, we expect the game to favor the Seawolves. The Nittany Lions will put up a strong performance against Stony Brook, but will ultimately fall in a game that will be decided in the fourth quarter at a score of 15-13.

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About the Author

Ryan Banks

Ryan is a junior from Latrobe, Pennsylvania majoring in Finance. He is a Pittsburgh sports fan and believes Kenny Pickett is 'the guy.' In his free time, he can be found running pickup soccer games or losing money day trading in his apartment. Any inquiries (or stock tips) can be sent via email to [email protected].

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