Freshman forward Alyssa Francese in a game against UMass Lowell on Sept. 28. Francese scored the game-winner against Hartford on Sunday afternoon. SAMANTHA MONTES/THE STATESMAN

Stony Brook Women’s Soccer pulled off a late win at Hartford Sunday afternoon, breaking a scoreless tie in double overtime with a golden goal from freshman forward Alyssa Francese.

After 105 minutes of fruitless action, junior forward Julie Johnstonbaugh crossed the ball into the box and Francese fielded the ball in the attacking third, dribbling past her defender and another Hartford player and firing a shot from the corner of the penalty box that found the back of the net.

“As the game went longer and longer, I just felt like that goal was going to come,” head coach Brendan Faherty said. “[Johnstonbaugh] crossed the ball and it went over everybody and Alyssa stayed with it. She back-heeled it to herself and the two defenders kind of flew by her and she finished it really well. It was a great, great individual goal.”

The goal was Francese’s third game-winner of the season and sixth goal overall, good for third-most in the conference. All her scores have come in the last five matches.

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After the match, Faherty spoke about his forward’s rapid rise to prominence and her ability to score goals.

“We always knew that she was a goal-scorer, and she has shown that as a high school player and a club player,” Faherty said. “She’s very coachable, she wants to get better and now I think she’s being rewarded for her ability to finish because she’s able to do a lot of other things on the field.”

On paper, Francese’s golden goal was one of the only stark differences in the matchup. Stony Brook outshot Hartford 17-16, but both teams had just seven and three shots on goal respectively. Most of the match ran through the team’s two goalkeepers: Seawolves freshman Sofia Manner picked up three saves on the way to her third career shutout while Hartford freshman goalkeeper Maia Perez’s six-save performance had commentators calling her the player of the game until the very end.

Apart from her stops, Manner proved to be a crucial ball distributor, especially during the opening half.

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“I think for us it’s really important that our backs and our goalkeeper are comfortable with their feet,” Faherty said. “We want to be able to play out of the back and keep possession, and our defenders always knowing that they can turn around and pass the ball back to her makes it really comfortable for them.”

Stony Brook’s win against Hartford was a near-mirror image of last year’s 1-0 overtime loss against the Hawks on Oct. 23, 2016, when then-senior defender Caitlin Smallfield won the game on a free-kick goal in the 100th minute.

“The game, to be honest, was very similar to our matchup last year when they beat us 1-0,” Faherty said. “I think both teams really try to play, they really try to keep the ball. Hartford has some really good midfield players who can keep the ball and keep the ball moving. I thought today we did a really good job of getting a lot of different players in
the attack.”

The Hawks and the Seawolves have the highest and second-highest scoring offenses in the America East conference, with 21 and 20 goals scored respectively. Although both teams had 40 goals between them entering the afternoon, Faherty said he was not surprised the match turned into a defensive slugfest.

“I think the game kind of played out how I thought it would,” Faherty said. “In our conference it’s going to be rare that you see a ton of goals in any game. I think every game’s going to be tight. This is the 21st time we’ve played Hartford and it’s only the third time we’ve ever beat them.”

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Stony Brook will look to win their third straight conference matchup when they take on New Hampshire on Sunday, Oct. 8 at 1 p.m. at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium.

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