The enthusiastic celebration from the team was audible from well beyond the locker room. From the moment they walked off the field to the first roar of triumphant cheering, the player’s faces held wide grins and bright expressions.
The celebration followed a dominant 4-0 victory for Stony Brook Men’s Soccer on Friday, Sept. 28, against the 16th-ranked team in the country, UMass Lowell.
“We had a plan coming into the game,” head coach Ryan Anatol said. “We wanted to be really aggressive defensively and put them under pressure, make it difficult for them to play. We wanted to be proactive and play as much as we could in their half, and I think we did a really good job of that.”
Stony Brook found itself trading possessions with UMass Lowell throughout the first 15 minutes of the match, with neither team able to find any stretch of time threatening the other’s goal. Things changed in the 17th minute when freshman defender Rondell Payne found a deflected cross in front of the goal and launched a shot into the upper left corner of the net.
“To be honest with you, I wasn’t looking for the ball,” Payne said in a post-game interview. “The ball just, y’know, popped up on me. I took a touch, and I realized I had space to shoot, so I took the shot and the ball just got in the goal.”
The River Hawks recovered quickly from the score and pressed the Seawolves for seven consecutive minutes, generating five shots in the process. Freshman goalkeeper Christian Miesch saved the first attempt, and the Seawolves defense managed to block the next four that came their way to preserve the Seawolves’ lead.
The game turned on UMass Lowell in the 41st minute. Their redshirt-junior defender Chase Reichenberg committed a hard foul in front of the River Hawks goal and received a red card. A penalty kick was awarded to Stony Brook, but senior midfielder Serge Gamwanya’s shot was denied by freshman goalkeeper Patrik Gujic.
The red card ejected Reichenberg from the match, restricting the River Hawks to 10 men, resulting in them struggling to hold back the Seawolves in the second half. Junior defender Gustavo Fernandes found a redirected ball in front of the net in the 65th minute and chest bumped the ball in for a 2-0 lead. Not even two minutes later, junior striker Jarred Dass slipped past the defense to knock a shot in and give the Seawolves a 3-0 lead. Senior midfielder Martieon Watson completed the offensive explosion in the 77th minute by drilling a shot from 15 yards out. The Seawolves’ outburst of goals is especially impressive considering that the River Hawks had only given up five goals all season prior to Friday.
“We got the penalty, and a little bit of disappointment to not go up 2-0 at that point,” Anatol said. “We had the momentum, we had the red card, but really happy the guys didn’t hang their heads and continued to push on. They turned around really quickly and continued to go after it.”
“Once we went up a goal, the message at halftime was ‘Look, continue to be aggressive defensively but know as they push on, as they push numbers up to try and get one, the spaces will open up,’” Anatol continued. “‘And when that does happen, then we have to be ruthless, and clinical.’ And they were able to do that tonight.”
Stony Brook improves to 5-3-1 overall on the season after dismantling UMass Lowell, earning a 2-0 start to America East conference play. The Seawolves will head back onto the road for a three-game trip, beginning on Tuesday, Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. against the 25th-ranked Fordham Rams.
“It’s gonna be a quick turnaround,” Anatol said. “We want to continue to move forward, and continue to keep the momentum and get better. That’s what we stressed, keep getting better each day. Right now we gotta recover, and then get back to the training field and really prepare for a good opponent on Tuesday night.”
Correction: October 1, 2018
An earlier version of this story mistakenly repeated sections of the article. The current version has been revised to eliminate the repeated paragraphs.