The Stony Brook women’s soccer team returns this year with high hopes of claiming their second regular season conference title in as many years in the America East and looks to improve upon their second-place finish from last year and claim the championship.
According to the 2014 Coaches Poll, the team is ranked No. 2 in the conference. Stony Brook will face a challenging schedule this season, facing the likes of University of Connecticut on Sept. 7 and St. John’s University on Sept. 18. Rival University of Maryland-Baltimore County, who beat the Seawolves for the America East Conference title last season will play host to Stony Brook on Oct. 5 in what will be a key conference matchup.
Stony Brook has established itself as an annual competitor in the America East, and coach Sue Ryan is confident that although they face a tough schedule, the team will take games in stride.
“We are excited to compete with some of the best programs in the country for our upcoming 2014 season,” Ryan said. “Each game will provide a fast-paced and competitive environment for our team as we move toward our goal of competing in the NCAA tournament.”
This year the team takes the field with 18 returning players and 12 incoming freshmen.
“This has been one of the most competitive preseasons we have ever had here at Stony Brook,” Ryan said. “The freshmen came in fit and ready to contribute and the returners have done a fabulous job of integrating them into what we have built here. Our players are working hard to earn spots for the fall but they have also done a tremendous job of supporting the people they are competing against for the spots. It has created a nice dynamic.”
The team is not without notable departures though, including America East first-team All Conference athletes Stella Norman and Larissa Nysch, a defender and forward respectively.
Nysch was especially important in leading the team to nearly two goals per game, adding 11 of her own to outscore opponents by an average of .73 goals. In addition, Nysch penciled her name into the Stony Brook record book, kicking her way into ninth on the school’s all-time list of goals in a single season with her 2013 effort.
Ryan, in her 30th season as head coach of the women’s soccer program, though, believes the Seawolves have enough returning experience to make up for the losses along with the pieces in place to make up for the production.
Leading the Seawolves on the field this season are two captains, senior Shannon Grogan and redshirt junior Regan Bosnyak.
Ryan has confidence in her two captains and their ability to lead the team in their quest for a conference championship.
“With twelve newcomers and two new coaches joining the staff, there was a lot of change this offseason,” Ryan explained. “Shannon and Regan have done a fabulous job of taking the team by the reigns, embracing the change and getting everybody to buy into our team concept and the core values of our program.”
Another notable presence on the field for Stony Brook is their goalkeeper, redshirt senior Ashley Castanio. Last season Castanio posted an impressive 1.12 goals against average and .829 save percentage. Last year’s America East Goalkeeper of the Year, Castanio currently sits second in school history with a 1.18 career GAA. She is behind Marisa Viola, who currently stands at 1.02.
Once the team kicks its way into October, every match will be against conference foes, leading up to the all-important conference championships come Oct. 30 as the Seawolves hope to secure home field advantage and clinch another NCAA berth.