2023 NCAA Lacrosse Rankings: No. 4 Stony Brook (Women)


It will be difficult for Ellie Masera to top her incredible 2022 season.

The 2023 college lacrosse season is almost here. As is our annual tradition, we’re featuring every team ranked in the Nike/USA Lacrosse Preseason Top 20.

Check back to USALaxMagazine.com each weekday this month for new previews, scouting reports and rival analysis.


2022 Record: 16-3 (6-0 America East)
Final Ranking (2022): No. 5
Coach: Joe Spallina


Ellie Masera, M, Jr.; Kailyn Hart, A, Sr.; Clare Levy, D, Jr

Joe Spallina calls Ellie Masera the best midfielder in the country. USA Lacrosse Magazine’s prognosticators agreed, tabbing the junior middie and the Seawolves’ leading scorer in 2022 the Preseason Midfielder of the Year. Kailyn Hart adds flare and depth on offense, while Clare Levy does the same on D.


Jolie Creo, A, Gr. (Holy Cross); Hailey Duchnowski, G, Gr. (LIU); Shana Hecht, G, Gr. (Temple)

With Charlie Campbell and Kameron Halsall gone, the Seawolves brought in grad transfers Hailey Duchnowski (LIU) and Shana Hecht (Temple) to compete with redshirt freshman Aaliyah Jones for the starting netminder nod. Jolie Creo from Holy Cross will likely take on the offensive quarterback role, freeing up Hart to be more of a wing dodger.


Graduations: Charlie Campbell, G; Kameron Halsall, G; Siobhan Rafferty, M; Rayna Sabella, M


Ellie Masera appears “unguardable” after the fall.

It would be hard for Ellie Masera to top her 2022. The midfielder led Stony Brook in goals (67), points (87) and draws (100), won silver with USA in Sixes and played for the senior national team at Fall Classic. But Spallina put the lacrosse world on notice for 2023 — Masera got better.

“She developed an ability to dodge from X,” Spallina said. “She’s a premiere wing dodger.”

And Spallina has seen her develop the ability to pass off the dodge.

“Last year, she was an elite player, but now she’s raising the level of players around her,” Spallina said.

The players around her will include Charlotte Verhulst (3 G, 3 A, 63 DC), who has transformed from a draw specialist into a true two-way midfielder. Jaden Hampel (21 G, 21 A, 22 DC) is also versatile. Though much of the offense is run out of the midfield, don’t sleep on Hart. The attacker finished second in goals (64) and points (78) in 2022.

Who will start in goal?

Stony Brook’s backer-zone defense ranked first nationally in goals allowed per game last season (6.63). But starting goalie Charlie Campbell (7.22 GAA, .494 SV%) and formidable backup Kameron Halsall (5.54 GAA, .532 SV%) are both gone. Aaliyah Jones redshirted last season and turned heads in Stony Brook’s open scrimmage against Notre Dame this fall for her quickness and athleticism. 

A pair of transfers are also in play. Hecht appeared in one game at Temple in 2022. Duchnowski (.505 SV %) originally came to SBU to be a grad assistant coach, but the NEC Defensive Player of the Year from LIU decided to use her last year of eligibility in 2023. 

Whoever it is will have a historically stout defense in front of her.

“For us, our defense is so good that we need goalies who need to make the saves they are supposed to make,” Spallina said.

All-Americans Clare Levy (18 CT, 31 GB, 39 DC) and Haley Dillon (50 CT, 35 GB) and all-conference defender Ella Whitehouse (12 CT, 12 GB) headline the list of returners.

Is this “the year?”

The Seawolves have been on the cusp of their first Final Four berth in close-call quarterfinal games in four of the last five seasons.

What makes this year different?

The switch from the America East to the CAA, where Stony Brook will play historically tougher teams like Drexel, Hofstra and Towson, should help the RPI. SBU has been seeded eighth for the last three NCAA Tournaments and played top-seed UNC close in the last two, drawing questions about whether the Seawolves should have been slotted higher.

“The closest quarterfinal has been the one-eight game, which is an alert that we are not placed properly,” Spallina said. “But at the end of the day, we’re not in to just to make the Final Four or quarterfinals. We’re in it to win the national championship.”

And Spallina thinks SBU has the depth to do it this year.

“We've never been aligned like we are now,” he said. “We return our top scorers and the majority of our starting defense. When you look at those things right there, it’s easy to see how we are poised to do what we are supposed to do.”


“They do an incredible job of player development. They find a lot of players who aren’t the five-star, blue-chip recruits and make them become really incredible players who have a chip on their shoulders. I don’t think you can ever sleep on Stony Brook. Their defense is really tough. They’ve got some big weapons returning.”



The Seawolves finished the 2022 campaign with the top-rated defense in the country, as measured by opponent-adjusted defensive efficiency. It was the third time in the past eight seasons that they finished on top in this metric, but the first time since 2017. And it’s hard to point to one thing that made the difference. They allowed just .43 shots-per-possession (1st); they turned teams over on 36% of the possessions they faced (2nd) and their keepers saved 48.1% of the shots on goal (3rd). No weaknesses there.

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