Entering halftime against Army, Stony Brook Men’s Soccer head coach Ryan Anatol had mixed feelings about his team’s play. He was pleased with his team’s performance, but the same could not be said for its deficit.
“I thought when you looked at the first half, it was a pretty even game up to that point,” Anatol said. “I think it was even on the offensive end. I thought it was a back and forth game and that we were in it. Then we let up a bad goal: one-on-one defending off a throw-in. We can’t give up goals like that.”
The Seawolves tried to make a comeback in the second half, but two Army Black Knights’ goals, separated by 16 seconds, pushed the score to 3-0. Stony Brook went on to lose the game Monday night at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium.
In the second half, Stony Brook took risks on the offensive end. Stony Brook defenders were pushing farther up the field to get more bodies in the box. Crosses were flying across Army’s 18-yard box and shots were being ripped from Seawolves’ boots. However, risks on the offense resulted in miscues on defense for Anatol’s squad.
“I think in trying to create chances up top, we lost the ball in front of them a lot,” Anatol said. “They were able to counter on us and we were open. You take risks when you’re down one, but I think that allowed them to get some one-on-one opportunities and get past our back four since we were losing the ball in bad spots, and that gave them the two goals.”
Redshirt senior goalkeeper Tom McMahon was unable to cradle the ball into his hands after making a diving save on Army sophomore forward Rex Epps’ shot. His save led to the ball landing on Army sophomore forward Keenan O’Shea’s foot. O’Shea hammered the ball into the net, giving his team a 2-0 lead in the 51st minute.
Within a mere 16 seconds, Epps found the back of the net. The sophomore took the ball from the 30-yard line, dribbled past several Seawolves defenders and ripped a shot past McMahon and into the lower right side of the goal. The score sat at 3-0, and the Seawolves were unable to respond offensively.
The game had a much different style of play compared to Stony Brook’s season opener against Canisius on Aug. 25. Stony Brook was in control of the play against Canisius, whereas Army was a much more physical team. Anatol expected that, but also was prepared for his team to play that same kind of style.
“I think Army is a good team. I think they’re going to go out there and win a lot of games this year,” Anatol said about his opponents. “Their M.O. is that they are a physical team, but we want to be that team as well. So, I thought it was an intriguing matchup and I wanted to see it.”
Army scored in the 20th minute of the first half, as senior midfielder Shaban Abousaud slotted the ball past McMahon after a pass from sophomore midfielder Peter Meyer to give Army a 1-0 lead. Army outshot Stony Brook 15-11, with an 11-2 shots on goal advantage. Junior midfielder Serge Gamwanya led the team on offense for the Seawolves, taking four shots including two shots on goal.
Graduate forward Robin Bjornholm-Jatta continued his strong play from Friday. Although recording no shots, his ball movement and field vision helped set his teammates up for goal-scoring opportunities. His one-touch passing helped move the ball quickly to the wings to set up crosses into the box, but his teammates struggled to find the back of the net.
Stony Brook will have several days of rest before hosting Seton Hall on Friday, Sept. 1 at 7 p.m..