Stony Brook Women’s Soccer dominated possession throughout its non-conference match against Delaware State on Friday, Sept. 21, but had a hard time capitalizing in front of the goal through the first hour.
The Seawolves made their way into the Hornets’ penalty box with ease from the start of the match, tallying 10 shots with eight shots on goal in the opening half. Time and time again, the team created quality chances only to see them thwarted by a mistimed pass, clutch tackle or one of Delaware State senior goalkeeper Leslie Fazio’s seven first-half saves. Stony Brook was up 1-0 at halftime thanks to a hard-won penalty kick that sophomore forward Alyssa Francese fired into the corner of the net, but still had yet to score outside a set piece.
Then along came senior forward Julie Johnstonbaugh.
Johnstonbaugh’s speedy runs gave the Seawolves a couple of fruitless chances early on, but in the 73rd minute of the match she managed to send a pass from sophomore midfielder Chelsie DePonte sailing past Fazio to stretch the team’s lead to 2-0. Just over three minutes later, Deponte scored herself off a relay from a corner kick, giving Stony Brook a 3-0 final goal tally that reflected the team’s oppressive offensive performance in the victory.
After the match, Johnstonbaugh credited Stony Brook’s late offensive surge to a switch in the team’s positional play.
“In the beginning of the game we tried out a new formation,” Johnstonbaugh said. “We want to have more in our bag that we can pull out against another team in the beginning, so we were getting used to that offense. Later in the game we just came off the bench and we wanted to pick up the energy, so we were back in our regular formation and pressed a lot more. Usually good things happen when we press.”
Head coach Brendan Faherty was satisfied with his team’s attack throughout the match, and chalked up the lack of early goals as a soccer anomaly.
“To be honest, I thought we played better in the first half, but we only scored one goal,” Faherty said. “In the second half I don’t think we played as well but we scored two times. That’s what makes soccer an awesome sport and also a very frustrating sport sometimes. But I’m happy with the chances we created, and hopefully in another game they all go in.”
The Seawolves’ offense stifled the Hornets’ own scoring chances, and after 90 minutes Delaware State had failed to register a single shot on goal. Despite being outplayed, Stony Brook’s opponents fought hard, setting the pace early on for a physical match with 19 combined fouls. Hornets senior midfielder Samantha Bahr picked up the lone yellow card of the night.
“They’re a physical team, and we talk a lot about how we have to be physical,” Faherty said. “Some of the teams we’ve played on our schedule have been physical and everyone’s going to be somewhat physical. I think we’ve got to be able to meet that challenge.”
Redshirt-senior goalkeeper Carolyn Carrera made her Seawolves debut at the start of the second half, replacing regular sophomore starting goalkeeper Sofia Manner after the Hornets failed to record a shot on goal through the first 45 minutes. Carrera looked poised in front of the net in the latter half of the game, serving as a solid ball distributor in the backfield despite not facing a single shot on goal from Delaware State.
Friday night’s win drops Delaware State to 2-8-1 on the year and brings Stony Brook’s overall record to 5-5, one win better than its 4-6 mark at the end of non-conference play last season.
Johnstonbaugh noted that last year’s championship experience helped give the team a more solidified core and praised the team’s effort in preparing for the current campaign.
“I think that we definitely had a more organized lineup coming into this season,” Johnstonbaugh said. “We had a lot of returners that won the championship last year and we kind of did what we had to do. We all came a week early and worked really, really hard in the preseason. I just think we’re a really hard working group.”
Stony Brook will play its first conference match of the season against America East foe Maine on Sunday, Sept. 23. The Seawolves’ game against the 4-3-1 Black Bears is set to start at 1 p.m.