Freshman midfielder Rachel Florenz (No. 2, above) in a game against Iona on Aug. 20 at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium. Florenz scored a goal in the first seven minutes on Friday, helping Stony Brook defeat UMass for the second win of the season. PHOTO COURTESY OF STONY BROOK ATHLETICS

Freshman forward Rachel Florenz once again acted as the catalyst for the Stony Brook women’s soccer team’s offense on Friday, jumpstarting the Seawolves’ offense with a goal at the seven-minute mark. The goal, which was her third in as many games, helped Stony Brook defeat UMass 2-0 at Rudd Field for the team’s second straight non-conference win.

“That first goal [Florenz] just did a really good job,” head coach Brendan Faherty said. “She just cut in, their defenders kept backing off and she just took a shot from 20 yards out.”

It was the second game in a row in which Florenz scored a goal within the first 10 minutes – she scored twice before the clock reached the 10-minute mark in last Sunday’s win over Iona. The freshman finds herself leading the America East in goals early in the season, with two more scores than any other player in the conference. She has scored three of the team’s five goals this season and is a significant part of why the team has begun the season with a 2-1 overall record.

However, she was not the only freshman to contribute in the first half. Midfielder Chelsie DePonte tapped in a goal on a sharp pass from junior forward Julie Johnstonbaugh in the 20th minute.

“I think people are getting excited about it but it is still a process for them and for our team,” Faherty said. “Our season is so short, so we want to integrate younger players into the group right away. They have responded well but I also think there is a lot of growth there for all of them.”

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The Seawolves’ first half offense set the tone much like it did against Iona. Stony Brook dominated possession of the ball, taking 10 shot attempts in the first half alone while UMass did not attempt a shot until the 48th minute. However, the Minutewomen stormed back and controlled possession of the ball for most of the second period. The team outshot the Seawolves 12-1 in the period.

“Coaches want to talk about tactics, they want to talk about technique, but at the end of the day you have to want it,” Faherty said. “In the second half, I thought the UMass players wanted it more than our team.”

Freshman goalkeeper Sofia Manner was not busy in the first half as the team kept UMass busy downfield. But she played a major role in neutralizing a more aggressive offense in the second half, collecting three saves to complete the first shutout of her career and the Seawolves’ season.

“Sofia did a great job of controlling the game at her feet,” Faherty said. “It adds another field player on the field which makes our backs more comfortable.”

Despite the Minutewomen taking 12 shots attempts in the second half, only four made it past Stony Brook’s backfield defenders.  

“We’re excited. Last year we didn’t win our second game until Sept. 16,” Faherty said. “We enjoyed a lot of success later on in the season last year. We talked about that a lot with our returning players during the winter and spring, so I’m excited to see we are getting some results early on.”

Stony Brook will travel to Hanover, N.H. to take on Dartmouth on Sunday at 1:00 p.m.

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