On the final night of the regular season for America East Men’s Soccer, the Stony Brook Seawolves were able to win their final home game and clinch the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament after a 2-0 shutout victory against the UMBC Retrievers Wednesday night at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium.
On a night where Stony Brook honored its three seniors, freshman forward Mark Irvine and sophomore midfielder Serge Gamwanya scored two first-half goals to help the team win.
“I thought the guys played very well,” head coach Ryan Anatol said. “We knew UMBC would be difficult, and it’s a little misleading. I think the fact that they didn’t get any points this year is misleading because I think they’re a good team. But our guys came out and played very well, and I thought we executed well and stuck to the game plan.”
The game-winning goal came in the 21st minute of play. After junior midfielder Thibault Duval beat two defenders with a spin move, he made a quick pass to the feet of junior defenseman Danny Espinoza. He took the ball down the left side and played it on the ground to the penalty kick marker where Irvine was waiting. He hammered the ball home one time for his first collegiate goal.
“It’s huge,” Irvine said about his game-winner. “I’ve been working hard, on and off the field. Until I got it, I didn’t really know what to do. I’ve had a few opportunities in previous games that haven’t fallen for me, but to get a goal in such a big game is definitely great.”
The insurance goal came 13 minutes later, during the 34th minute of the match. After getting a free kick from a dangerous spot outside the box, Duval placed the kick toward the top of the box, where no player was standing. Gamwanya came off a screen set by a teammate to meet the ball and rip a shot into the bottom right corner for the second goal of the game.
The play seemed like it had been practiced many times, which Gamwanya confirmed.
“Yeah, we’ve worked on it in practice,” Gamwanya said. “Coach has been telling me, ‘Got to get it, you got to get it.’ He would tell me over and over, again and again, so when game time came, we were prepared for it.”
Anatol was very impressed with the scoring performances as well.
“[Irvine] scored a great first goal,” Anatol said. “But to get another one of a restart, I was really proud of the guys for that. You know, at this time of the year, a lot of games come down to restarts and the guys have been working really hard on that.”
With the regular season officially over, Stony Brook holds the No. 1 seed after holding tiebreakers over Albany and New Hampshire.
With the win, the Seawolves relied on Vermont to either tie or win against New Hampshire to secure the top seed. With Vermont scoring two late goals, they picked up the win and helped Stony Brook in the process.
The Seawolves will now have the week off, as they gain a first round bye for being a top two seed. They will next play on Wednesday, Nov. 9 at 7 p.m. where the team will face the winner of Hartford and New Hampshire, who play in the first round on Saturday.