Despite a furious comeback attempt and an increase in chippiness over the match’s final minutes, the Stony Brook Men’s Soccer team was able to pull out a 3-2 victory over Iona on Wednesday night at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium.
The Seawolves were riding a 2-0 lead with about 17 minutes left to play in the match when the Gaels began to press and mount a comeback. Senior defender Marley McLain played a ball in the air from just about midfield to sophomore forward Aristotle Seferlis, who chipped redshirt junior goalkeeper Tom McMahon to cut the lead to 2-1.
Less than 30 seconds later, Stony Brook answered. Senior defender scored after freshman midfielder Jarred Dass sent a ball into the middle and right to senior forward Eduardo Valle’s foot to push the score to 3-1. Then the yellow cards started.
In total, six yellow cards were issued in the second half, with five of them coming in the final 17 minutes. Both sides committed fouls, causing players to retaliate at times and resulting in the referee issuing cautions.
“We gave them an opportunity to get back into the game,” Stony Brook head coach Ryan Anatol said after the game. “I think we lost a little bit of composure and a little bit of control.”
One foul came from junior forward Vince Erdei, which resulted in a penalty kick for the Gaels in the 81st minute. The team took advantage of it and scored, trimming the Seawolves lead to 3-2.
However, that was all the Gaels could muster.
The Seawolves and the Gaels were in a stalemate during the first half. Neither team was able to put the ball in the back of the net. However, the Seawolves were more dominant with the ball. They controlled play, moving the ball around and creating chances, but were just unable to capitalize.
“I thought we were very organized defensively when you look at the first half,” Anatol said. “We came out to a very specific plan and I thought the guys did a good job playing to that. I feel like we could’ve played with a little more bite in the first half though and challenged them more.”
That bite showed in the second half when the Seawolves were able to get on the board first. Freshman defender Stephen Turnbull scored his first collegiate goal when he hammered the ball with his head into the back of the net off the corner kick from sophomore midfielder Serge Gamwanya in the 52nd minute.
“We knew this was a team that liked to play,” Gamwanya said. “Coach just told us to keep organized and wait for them to slip up and make mistakes and that’s what we did.”
Ten minutes later, Stony Brook struck gold again. This time, it was junior midfielder Thibault Duval. The Belgian scored off a diving header after the cross was made by Dass in the 64th minute of play, pushing the score to 2-0.
The Seawolves’ defense came to play tonight. They only allowed one goal and one penalty shot and were able to keep the Gaels away from their defensive third for a majority of the contest. Before Iona’s first goal on Wednesday, the team had a streak of 270 minutes without surrendering a goal, dating back to the 1-0 victory against Canisius on Sept. 4.
“We have been working so hard on defense in practice,” Gamwanya said. “Everyday, everyone is working on stepping, pushing, working together. The back four have been working on communication, and that has been the biggest part of the back four, along with the two central midfielders.”
The Seawolves will look to continue their winning streak when they head back on the road to face NJIT on Saturday, Sept. 17th at 2 p.m.