The first shot came 13 minutes in, landing in the left-hand corner of the net. From a short pass in front of the net, freshman midfielder Jack Valderrabano put the Stony Brook men’s soccer team up 1-0 against New Hampshire.
The team would manage only two more shots the entire game. Meanwhile, New Hampshire launched a barrage of 19 shots against freshman goalkeeper Christian Miesch. Despite that, the Seawolves pulled out the victory against the Wildcats on Saturday, Oct. 13.
“We had to defend well tonight, and I thought we did that,” head coach Ryan Anatol said. “New Hampshire is a solid team and at times they put us under pressure, and we dealt with it. We scored a goal early, we scored 12 minutes in and it put us in a position where they had to chase the game. If it was tied, maybe it would’ve been a little bit different, but when you score early you can be a little bit more pragmatic in the game and be solid and be good defensively.”
The defensive effort was led by Miesch, who picked up a career-high nine saves. Every time New Hampshire pressured the goal, Miesch was in the right place to prevent close shots from making it in, and tried to reignite the offensive push. The Seawolves normally play around Miesch jumpstarting their play, but the goalkeeper noted that tonight they played to prevent mistakes rather than risk giving up the lead.
“First thing I look [for] is how the other team is pressuring us,” Miesch said. “Today, I felt like it would’ve been a little too risky to play behind because they were just waiting for it, so my decision was most of the time just to get the ball on the side where we had more players, and then for me it’s just accuracy. I want to get every ball to the player, that’s going to be my goal, and then I know the guys are fighting for the ball.”
“That’s what I expect,” Miesch said about his performance on the night. “Because I’m a freshman but I’m still one of the oldest guys on the team, so I try to support the guys around me. I have more experience than most of them, so it’s kind of my job to step up and help the team, today well really well obviously, but I know in soccer it can go the other way around real quick. So I’m just really happy for the team right now and for a result like this.”
Stony Brook now finds itself in the driver’s seat in the America East. The Seawolves own a 4-0 record in conference play, two games ahead of any other team with three games left on the schedule.
“We’re going to take it one game at a time,” Anatol said about the opportunity Stony Brook faces. “We’ve played a lot of games in a very short space of time, so the first part is recovering, letting the guys get a little bit of rest, we’ve been on the road as well. We also want to continue to get better, we know as the season goes on there’s still areas that we can improve.”
Miesch was more direct about the team’s stretch of success and looking toward the finale.
“We put ourselves in a position to make it to the end, and dominate the league,” Miesch said. “Today we obviously didn’t have a lot of possession than in our other games, before we had a lot more possession. I think we played the best team so far in the America East. We want to go into every game, dominate every team, and we’re on top of the league for a reason. We want to stay up there, and we want to finish, and then look forward to the tournament.”