On Friday night, the Stony Brook men’s soccer team proved to be the victor as it took on the Central Connecticut Blue Devils in their season opener. Both teams showed their early season rust, but the Seawolves won 1-0 thanks to their pace and defensive stoutness.
The first half was a scoreless for both sides. However, the Seawolves demonstrated greater physical prowess and tenacity, allowing them to dominate both possession and shots on goal. From the first whistle, Stony Brook was able to create more chances, generating opportunities by exploiting their advantage in pace with long balls over the top.
“It’s a great feeling, starting off slow last year we were determined to come in start a strong new season, so it’s really good to start off on a positive note,” junior centerback Tavares Thompson said after the game.
However, the first shot on goal was conceded to the Blue Devils following a reckless tackle just outside the penalty box. It took a fantastic diving save from junior goalkeeper Jason Orban to keep Central Connecticut off the score sheet. The Seawolves were able to settle in soon after, as their defense was able to prevent any further shots in the half.
The team executed head coach Ryan Anatol’s game plan well, building off a solid defense to hold possession. However, the Seawolves were dogged by a lack of technical ability in the attacking third. Stony Brook put itself into advantageous positions with its physicality, but failed to convert its chances into goals. No one better exemplified this than sophomore forward Akeem Morris, who came on in the 21st minute. He exploited the Blue Devils’ defense to put himself into positions to score, only to come away with a yellow card from a handball in the opposing box and a bad miss in front of net.
“Overall I thought it was a really good performance. I thought we dominated the first half, you look at having eight shots to their one, we had a bunch of opportunities,” Anatol said. “After going up one I thought we could have done a better job of closing out the game…but overall I thought it was a good performance.”
The second half showed a more dangerous Stony Brook side. They dominated possession again and the defense remained stiff, but the difference came in the attacking third.
The team’s passing was much crisper, with sophomore midfielder Thibault Duval providing the offensive creativity and dangerous crosses that resulted in chances for Stony Brook in the box. A goal seemed inevitable, and such a prophecy was fulfilled in the 62nd minute.
Duval flashed excellent technical skill in the opposing penalty area, which he finished off by serving freshman midfielder Martieon Watson a wide open opportunity in front of goal, which he coolly slotted home to give the Seawolves the lead. The last thirty minutes were an exercise in defensive attrition for the Seawolves, which they won thanks a disciplined back line.
Both teams were able to create chances, but none were threatening enough to require serious goalkeeper intervention. However, a sequence of dangerous corners in the 85th minute resulted in two excellent saves by Orban. The late minutes had the Blue Devils throwing all they could in attack in a last-ditch effort to net an equalizer. The Seawolves were able to successfully park the bus in a tense ending that featured a set piece opportunity for Central Connecticut from 25 yards out and an 88th minute corner kick for the Blue Devils.
The final whistle blew with Stony Brook taking the 1-0 victory, a quarter of the way to matching last season’s win total.
The Seawolves will next face off against Sacred Heart this Monday at 7 p.m.