Photo from Facebook/SBU Men’s Soccer
By Carrie Parker
You couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day on Sunday, though the weather did nothing to placate the highly aggressive contest between the still undefeated UMass Lowell River Hawks and our own Stony Brook Seawolves.
A single shot halfway through the first period ultimately decided the match in the River Hawks’ favor, knocking Stony Brook to a 7-4-2 record. The Seawolves are now tied for third place in the America East Conference with the New Hampshire Wildcats, whom they defeated 2-0 in their previous home game.
On Sunday afternoon, just over one hundred fans dotted the bleachers at the Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium. The game started mildly enough as the River Hawks’ defense casually circulated the ball. This series of precise passes quickly evolved into an efficient network of maneuvers. For a moment, the Seawolves seemed caught in a round of monkey-in-the-middle, until freshman defender Stephen Turnbull burst through and broke things up. Sophomore midfielder Serge Gamwanya unleashed a powerful punt towards the goal, but it was swiftly captured by River Hawks’ keeper Austin Kroll.
On the next play, senior forward Eduardo Valle moved in quickly, seemingly aware of the River Hawks’ methodical strategy, charging players to prevent them from setting up a structure. Junior midfielder Thibault Duval (who was named Co-Player of the Week last week by America East) tried unsuccessfully to blast the ball in, his frustration apparent. By this point, the mood had clearly shifted. Although the tempo of the game was relatively slow, the play acquired a certain ferocity as opposing players jockeyed each other step for step.
The clock stopped when senior defender Tavares Thompson went down, flat on his back. He was one of three injured Seawolves in the match, which counted three yellow cards and over a dozen fouls and for each team by its conclusion. When asked about the eighteen fouls accumulated by the Seawolves, Coach Anatol explained, “we’ve got to play aggressive; it’s part of our identity.”
But in some ways it seemed that the pause in play might have been the moment Stony Brook needed to regroup. Sophomore Steven Ghitis energetically subbed in with about thirty minutes to go, and Stony Brook was on the move.
Then, a sudden stroke of misfortune led to a handball on Ghitis. A subsequent free kick by River Hawk forward Ivan Abramovic brought the score to 1-0, where it would stubbornly remain until the final whistle.
With about five minutes to go in the first half, freshman midfielder Macdara Heanue and freshman forward Mark Irvine flew in, ready to help their battered team. Irvine demonstrated careful control with a focused header and exuberant breakaway, but the clock ran out before any real progress could be made.
This sentiment was true for the game overall, which ended with three impressive saves by both goalies but no more points, even though there was ample opportunity, with Stony Brook racking up fifteen corner kicks.
Still, the Seawolves remained in the River Hawks’ territory for most of the game, speaking to Stony Brook’s tenacity, which Coach Ryan Anatol confirmed in saying, “I’m very proud of the effort. The guys came out, worked hard and put themselves in a position to get the equalizer.”
Facing Army West Point in a nonconference match just two days after, the Seawolves need to focus on giving their bodies recovery time, Coach Anatol explained. “There isn’t a lot of time to this about this game and its result,” he added. “We’ve just got to move on to the next one.”
You can watch the live stream of Tuesday night’s game starting at 7 p.m. here: https://campusinsiders.com/live/10-18-16-stony-brook-at-army-msoc/