After weeks of anticipation, the day that Stony Brook Men’s Soccer had been waiting for was finally here — the opening match of conference play.
“Anyone can beat anyone on any given day,” head coach Ryan Anatol said in the opening week of America East conference play. The Seawolves proved that Friday, defeating the defending conference champion Albany Great Danes 2-1 on Albany’s own field.
Stony Brook took control of the game late on a penalty kick. Senior midfielder Serge Gamwanya took the shot in the 79th minute, beating redshirt-senior goalkeeper Danny Vitiello for his fifth goal of the season. Gamwanya is currently tied with Vermont senior forward Geo Alves for the most goals in the America East, and tied with Alves and UMass Lowell redshirt-junior forward Stanley Alves for the most game-winning goals with three apiece.
The Seawolves had to catch up after a rough opening half. Senior midfielder Martieon Watson took a shot in the opening seconds of the match, but it was saved by Vitiello. Albany pressed the attack afterward and found an opportunity in the sixth minute. Senior forward Nico Solabarrieta chipped in a shot past Stony Brook freshman goalkeeper Christian Miesch for the first goal of the game.
Stony Brook had several shots in the first half, but six fouls prevented the Seawolves from maintaining pressure in Albany’s zone. The team’s luck turned, however, in the closing minute of the half. Junior midfielder Mark Irvine passed the ball through the defense, setting up redshirt-sophomore midfielder Gabriel Fernandes’ equalizer with 45 seconds left on the clock.
Fernandes’ goal gave the Seawolves a new life and Gamwanya’s gave them the lead, but the game wasn’t over yet. The Great Danes spent the final five minutes pressing for a tying goal of their own, and they got a chance in the 88th minute. Senior defender Daniel Krutzen found an open hole, but his shot attempt sailed wide. Albany couldn’t recoup in time from the miss and Stony Brook walked away with the victory.
“Great game tonight,” Anatol said in a press release. “Both teams battled extremely hard as expected to start off conference play. Credit to our guys who responded really well after the early mistake. We wanted to be positive and proactive and we carried the game for large periods. I thought we deserved the three points tonight.”
Stony Brook improves to 4-3-1 on the season and most importantly starts off with one in the win column for its conference record. The Seawolves will remain on the road for their next game, a match against the Sacred Heart Pioneers on Tuesday, Sept. 25 at 3 p.m. The Pioneers fell to Stony Brook 4-1 in their meeting last season at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium.