The Rutgers women’s lacrosse team ended its historic 2021 season with a loss to Stony Brook in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The 20-8 defeat ends a year where the Scarlet Knights (7-9, 5-7) made their second tournament appearance and recorded their first win in program history.
The Seawolves (16-2, 8-0) began the scoring in the game, as Kaeli Huff scored just over a minute into the first half. Senior attacker Taralyn Naslonski responded by tying up the game with a goal, the last time that the teams would be even during the game.
After Stony Brook scored two more goals, senior attacker Hannah Hollingsworth scored her first goal of the game. The Seawolves responded with a 7-goal run, pushing their lead to eight in the first half.
Junior attacker Marin Hartshorn and sophomore midfielder Cassidy Spilis tried to begin a comeback with a goal each, but Huff responded with her fourth goal of the half, putting Stony Brook ahead 11-4 at the half.
The second half started with another scoring run from the Seawolves, who scored the first four in the half. Sophomore midfielder Ashley Campo put Rutgers back on the board with her first goal, but the deficit was too much to overcome. Goals from Hollingsworth, Spilis and Naslonski were not enough as the Knights fell in their first ever second round game.
"Stony Brook is a really strong team and they pushed the pace," said head women’s lacrosse coach Melissa Lehman. "Their fast break is deadly. Kudos to them on their victory."
For Rutgers, Naslonski led the team on offense with 2 goals and two assists. Hollingsworth and Spilis both had 2 goals, with freshman goalkeeper Sophia Cardello recording eight saves in the loss.
Stony Brook was led by Huff, who finished with a team-leading 6 goals in the victory. Taryn Ohlmiller and Ally Kennedy both added 4 goals as the top three scorers combined for six more goals than the Knights.
In addition to making and winning a game in the tournament during the season, Rutgers reached the Big Ten Tournament semifinals for the first time since 2015 and defeated six ranked opponents, a new program record.
"This team just believed in each other and care so much about one another," Lehman said. "The seniors love this group and they came every day to lead by example. They never gave up and we always fought. At the end of the day, we just want to walk off this field proud and play Rutgers lacrosse."
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