This summer, soccer fever swept across the United States, as millions of fans got behind Tim Howard, Clint Dempsey and the rest of the American squad as they made their run into the round of 16 of the World Cup.
For those Stony Brook fans who are hungry for more soccer, the men’s team has a whole season ahead of them and they fully expect to compete for the America East championship.
“I think it was a great year for the game,” Head Coach Ryan Anatol said, “We’ve been working hard to build relations with the community. I think we’re going to be a fun team to watch.”
Last season, Stony Brook had a rough year, only going 1-5-1 against America East competition. They obviously hope to do better this year, and they will have a different squad complexion to do so.
Stony Brook lost four seniors from last season, including defensive midfielder Will Casey. Replacing them is a glut of young talent.
The team features 10 true freshmen, five redshirt freshmen and only one senior. You might think that such a youthful team would have a learning year ahead of them in preparation to be a strong competitor next year. But Anatol believes his team can compete.
“Our goals are always the same,” Anatol said.
“We want to win the conference championship. But we understand that we’re still a fairly young team. Our goals are to get better and grow every day.
“I think we’re going to be pretty good going forward. I think we’re going to be dynamic. I think we’re going to cause teams problems.”
The returning players have an important role to play, as they will be the leaders of the team. The lone senior, Keith McKenna took a big jump last season, starting 13 games and scoring the first four goals of his career.
Junior Martin Giordano was named to the second All- America East team at the end of last season and lead the team in points, and is expected to be the leader of the midfield.
Junior Alejandro Fritz leads returning players in goals from last season, trailing Casey by a single goal. Replacing departed goal keeper Carlos Villa will be a challenge, and it will most likely be sophomore Jason Orban’s responsibility to mind the net in his absence.
The team expects to be flexible, with their tactics varying based on the opponent they face.
Formation-wise, Anatol said that they will keep four backs on defense, but they will vary the placement of their midfielders and attackers based on the matchup.
“I think we’re going to be pretty dynamic, we’re going to push numbers forward whether we’re in a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-3,” Anatol said.
“I think that might change game to game depending on the personnel.
“I think this team is going to be very special. We have lofty expectations. We want to win a conference championship. That’s what we’re here to do.”
The Seawolves open their season against Central Connecticut in New Britain this Friday and their home season starts Sept. 5 against Lehigh.