Senior forward Julie Johnstonbaugh stole the spotlight on Senior Night at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium, scoring the game winning goal for Stony Brook Women’s Soccer in extra time on Oct. 18 and getting engaged following the final whistle against Hartford.
“To score a goal late and for Julie to step up on a cross from Fanny, it was a great college soccer game to be honest,” head coach Brendan Faherty said.
The Hawks put the Seawolves on their toes early in the game when the visitors nearly capitalized on a defensive error. Standing outside of the 18-yard box, sophomore goalkeeper Sofia Manner was forced to race back to her goal after a pass rolled by her toward an empty net. Manner made a diving challenge, knocking the ball away from Hartford junior forward Kaila Lozada before she could get a shot off.
Stony Brook sophomore forward Rachel Florenz put on a show along the left side of the field, making electric runs both down the line and past defenders. Florenz was able to register the Seawolves’ first shot on goal, cutting into the box after receiving an over the top pass from sophomore defender Anna Slang. Florenz’s tight-angled shot ended up in the hands of Hartford sophomore goalkeeper Maia Perez.
Miscommunication on the Seawolves’ back line led to the game’s opening goal in the 27th minute. Hawks senior forward Ashley Claud took advantage of the team’s momentary lapse, winning a loose ball in the box, dribbling it past Manner and slotting it into the empty net for a 1-0 lead.
Stony Brook experienced a frustrating start to the game’s second half, failing to convert quality chances into goals.
“We created a lot of opportunities,” Faherty said. “We just needed to make some better decisions in the final third with the ball.”
Following a free kick, a clearance would only get as far as the feet of sophomore midfielder Chelsie DePonte. DePonte wasted no time firing a shot toward the goal which found its way through several players in the box, only to slam against the right post.
Throughout the second 45 it was evident that Johnstonbaugh was getting locked in. Not only was she tracking back to help win the ball, but she nearly put Stony Brook on the scoreboard. After a few bounces in the box, the senior got on the end of the ball, forcing Perez to make a diving save to her right.
The Seawolves would eventually find an equalizer late in the game. With her back to goal, sophomore forward Alyssa Francese received the ball from Slang inside the 18. Francese suddenly turned and fired her shot over Perez and into the back of the net.
The 1-1 scoreline at the final whistle led the game into a a sudden death overtime where Stony Brook retained its newly sparked energy.
Johnstonbaugh maintained her work ethic in extra time, eventually being rewarded for it in the 100th minute. Watching a looping pass from sophomore forward Fanny Gotesson fly toward the Hawks’ back line, Johnstonbaugh intercepted the ball and headed it past Perez into the goal for the 2-1 comeback win.
“I thought we played very well the whole game,” Faherty said. “Hartford are a great team and put us under pressure at times with their front five.”
The Seawolves not only advanced their conference record to 5-1-1 with this victory but clinched their spot in the 2018 America East playoffs as well. The team’s next opponent, the UMass Lowell River Hawks, sit just behind the Seawolves in the America East standings, holding a 4-2-1 record in conference play. The matchup is scheduled for 4 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 21 at Cushing Field in Lowell, Massachusetts.