Defense, defense, defense. That was the mindset of the Stony Brook University women’s soccer team during Brendan Faherty’s tenure as head coach. But there’s a new man in town, and with him comes a change in the style of play.
The new sheriff in town, Tobias Bischof, may sound familiar to Long Islanders who follow women’s soccer. Bischof, the former associate head coach of Hofstra University’s women’s soccer team, has brought with him a new identity for the team. A faster pace of play, more movement on passes, more freedom on the field and an emphasis on scoring are some of the key changes Bischof has instilled in the team’s on-field play. “We are trying to play a little bit more offensive-minded,” Bischof said in an interview with The Statesman. According to players, Bischof’s new scheme and approach are paying off tremendously.
“He’s impacted this team a lot,” said junior midfielder Chelsie DePonte. “We want to score more goals, without giving up any, but I think we put a lot of emphasis on our attack now and switching on and transitioning fast and scoring goals.”
Junior forward Alyssa Francese, the top returning scorer for the Seawolves, likes the way Bischof has the team playing since his arrival. “The style of play that he has brought in suits our team very well,” Francese said. “He wants the best from us and also makes sure that he’s giving us his best in whatever he can do, whether it’s on the field or off the field. He came in with the mentality of expecting to win and not being surprised by results of games, and that has benefited us.”
The Seawolves face a tough draw this season, as their schedule is highlighted by four teams that competed in the 2018 NCAA Tournament: CAA champion, cross-island rival and coach Bischof’s former team, Hofstra; No. 12 ranked West Virginia; Boston University and the defending America East champion: the University of Albany. Stony Brook’s season also includes road games against St. John’s University and the University of Delaware, as well as matches against their fellow America East tournament competitors: Vermont, New Hampshire and UMass-Lowell.
Early results, however, have been promising. The Seawolves have won their first two games, a 2-1 OT thriller in their home opener versus Northeastern and another 2-1 victory only days later against Manhattan. The Seawolves are looking to ride their early success to Delaware and then to Saint Joseph’s in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
“It is different playing away,” said junior forward Fanny Götesson. “But we need to remember that we are there to play our game and that’s what we gotta do and try not to think too much about anything else.”
“We, as a coaching staff, look at the big picture,” coach Bischof said. “The overall goal is to be very competitive and to find a way to win the regular season and find a championship.”
With coach Bischof’s new scheme, a mostly intact returning team, eight of their top nine point scorers returning, and reigning America East Goalie of the Year Sophia Manner defending between the sticks, the Seawolves will be on the hunt, attempting to surpass their preseason No. 3 America East ranking.