The Stony Brook men’s soccer team’s lone victory this season came on the road against the NJIT Highlanders three weeks ago. However, in the rematch hosted at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium on Friday, April 2, the Highlanders got their revenge and dealt a killing blow 3-2 to eliminate the Seawolves from America East postseason contention.
Friday’s defeat was the third consecutive match lost by Stony Brook, who dropped to 1-5-1 (1-3-1 AE). While the Seawolves tied their season-high goals in a match with two, they conceded a hat trick to NJIT senior forward Regsan Watkins, who had only scored four goals on the season before the match.
Sophomore goalkeeper Curtis Copenhaver earned his first collegiate start with fellow sophomore Edmond Kaiser still sidelined after suffering an injury during the opening minutes of last week’s contest at UMBC.
The Highlanders struck first in the 24th minute when Watkins put his shot in the back left corner of the net off an assist from freshman midfielder Jose Escandon. Stony Brook was able to tie the match in the 41st minute when redshirt-senior midfielder Gabriel Fernandes converted the set piece assisted by junior midfielder Jack Valderrabano. Playing in the final home match of his career, Fernandes scored his second goal of the season.
However, NJIT pulled ahead again just before the end of the first half. With 23 seconds left, Watkins caught a pass from sophomore forward Alejandro Rabell and fired the ball past a diving Copenhaver to put the Highlanders up 2-1.
Watkins extended NJIT’s lead in the 55th minute when Watkins caught the rebound off a Copenhaver save to secure the hat trick — the Highlanders’ second hat trick of their Division I era. His performance on Friday vaulted him to the top of the America East’s goal leaderboard with seven.
Stony Brook’s comeback attempt gained an extra challenge when graduate back Stephen Turnbull was assessed a red card in the 66th minute, forcing the team to play with a man down for the rest of the match. The Seawolves cut into the deficit in the 78th minute when sophomore forward Kameron Blaise scored his first collegiate goal off the bench. Valderrabano and freshman midfielder Trevor Harrison assisted on the score.
The Seawolves would attempt four more shots in the closing minutes of the match but could not get the equalizer to go in.
Stony Brook ends its regular season on Friday, April 9 on the road against the UMass Lowell River Hawks.