Eight seconds remained on the clock as the ball was launched out of bounds. The crowd rose to their feet and started to cheer, a prelude to the sound of the horn signaling the end of the match.
The Stony Brook men’s soccer team fought through a scoreless second half to hold on and secure a 2-0 victory on Monday, Aug. 27 against St. Francis Brooklyn in its first home game of the season.
“It feels good,” junior defender Gustavo Fernandes said. “First game on the brand new stadium [field] so we didn’t want to come out and lose, so to be able to get the win in front of a nice crowd… it means the world to us.”
Fernandes put the Seawolves ahead for good in the 25th minute, drilling a shot from five yards out into the goal off a feed from senior midfielder Martieon Watson. The goal was Fernandes’ first as a Seawolf after spending his first two collegiate seasons at Iowa Western.
The early lead was a familiar place for Stony Brook, but it flipped the script from its season opener. Junior striker Jarred Dass extended the lead in the 34th minute, finding separation and driving forward for an unassisted goal.
“Last game I didn’t finish two of my chances,” Dass said. “Thinking about it, if I did my team would’ve gotten a better result. I think I’ve really improved on that, and I’m very content that I could finish with the team and just help get a victory.”
The team overall showed the beginnings of improvement, a sentiment head coach Ryan Anatol echoed.
“I thought for 45 minutes we dominated play,” Anatol said. “I thought in the first game we were really good in the first half… We weren’t able to sustain it in the second half, and you look at tonight’s performance, it’s similar. Our challenge to the guys was to continue to build.”
“It’s early in the year,” Anatol continued. “We know we’re not at 90 minutes, but if we get to 60, 70 minutes and continue to build that’s going to be a positive. I thought in the second half, again, a little bit of fatigue set in, and St. Francis Brooklyn pushed, but we defended well, got the shutout, which we’re happy about.”
Anatol hopes that the rest of the three-game homestand will provide an opportunity for the team to continue to play the style of soccer that they want.
“Keep possession of the ball,” Anatol stressed. “Be in the opponent’s end for large periods, create chances, try to dominate the game. And we did that for moments tonight, periods, we just want to try and do it for longer periods. Part of that is having guys that can come off the bench as well, so get more guys into the lineup that can contribute.”
Stony Brook’s next test will come on Saturday, Sept. 1 against the Lafayette Leopards at 7 p.m. Both teams will come into the match with 1-1 records.