The Stony Brook Seawolves were motivated entering Friday night’s matchup against the Binghamton Bearcats, the top team in the America East Conference, at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium. The Seawolves were coming off a historic upset of the No. 17 team in the country, Hofstra, and were a single win away from a playoff berth. Celebrating Senior Night, the stage was set for a dramatic duel against their conference rivals.
While it was a night honoring the seniors at Stony Brook—goalkeeper Jason Orban, midfielder Alejandro Fritz and forward Martin Giordano—sophomore forward Vince Erdei and freshman midfielder Serge Gamwanya’s heroic play stole the show in what was a 2-1 victory for Stony Brook, decided in overtime by Erdei’s second game-winning goal this season.
After fighting back in the closing minutes of regulation to force an overtime period, the Seawolves had the momentum on their side. Stony Brook looked to get Erdei an open shot and Gamwanya caught Binghamton sleeping on a long assist to the forward, which Erdei drilled into the net to give his team its America East playoff berth.
The game winning goal from Erdei tied him for first place in goals in the America East, with eight. Erdei just edged out teammate Giordano, who has seven, for most goals on Stony Brook’s roster.
Though the game ended in dramatic fashion for the Seawolves, in what was their biggest win of the season thus far, Binghamton was very much in control for the majority of regulation. The Seawolves began the game struggling to get by the Bearcats’ front line of defenders while their opponents looked more comfortable battling with Stony Brook’s defenders.
The scoreless tie ended in the 37th minute with a goal that was shot from about 15 yards out by Binghamton’s senior forward Pascal Trappe. The assist was attributed to sophomore forward Ben Ovetsky.
Binghamton continued to control the pace of the game into the second half until Stony Brook became much more aggressive towards the end of regulation.
“We tried to raise the energy and tried to play quicker,” Erdei said. “We had problems creating chances in the first half.”
The more aggressive style of play paid off for the Seawolves, and they never gave up even as time was running short. Gamwanya tied the game with a goal from a similar location as Trappes’ goal in the 87th minute on a deflection from a Binghamton defender. The clutch goal was the third of the season for Gamwanya, from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Stony Brook senior goalkeeper Orban quietly played a huge role in the team’s win. Orban’s lockdown goaltending after halftime enabled the Seawolves to roar back with two goals to seal their third consecutive victory. The win also ties Stony Brook for first place in the America East Conference with one game remaining.
The Seawolves will seek to enter the playoffs hot with a fourth straight win on Wednesday at The Retriever Soccer Park in Baltimore as they take on the UMBC Retrievers.