The America East has been dominated by one team lately, and there is no question as to who that team is.
By defeating the Binghamton Bearcats 1-0 in the conference championship game on Saturday, April 17, the Stony Brook women’s soccer team won its third America East title in the last four years. The win in Lowell, Massachusetts secured the program’s fourth NCAA Tournament bid, having previously earned a berth in 2012, 2017 and 2019.
“I am so proud of this team,” head coach Tobias Bischof said in a press release. “It was a long season, starting in August. The goal was always to get back here. We are so proud of our team to win another championship for our athletic department and Stony Brook University.”
Bischof has been Stony Brook’s head coach for two seasons, winning the title in both years.
The Seawolves struck early with a goal in the ninth minute from senior forward Fanny Götesson. Graduate forward Alyssa Francese was able to dribble down the field, running toward the end line to bring out Bearcats junior goalkeeper Haylee Poltorak. Francese dished a cut back pass to Götesson, who tapped in the ball on the near post to put Stony Brook up 1-0.
Stony Brook also got a header on target within the first three minutes of the match, but Poltorak was able to save the shot. The Seawolves dominated the first half, winning every ball, attacking and defending the whole nine yards. Their defense did not allow the Bearcats to develop dangerous plays except for one in the closing minutes of the first half.
Binghamton almost tied the match after winning a corner kick in the 34th minute. The ball came into the Seawolves’ box and pinballed around before being picked up by Stony Brook sophomore goalkeeper Emerson Richmond Burke.
The Seawolves continued to put pressure on the Bearcats coming out of the second half, and almost scored another goal as the ball bounced around the Binghamton box.
During the finishing moments of the contest, the Bearcats sent a defender up to attack hoping to tie the match up. With five minutes left, Binghamton applied the most offensive pressure all match, but Burke kept the Bearcats off the board. She faced 12 shots and recorded three saves for her third shutout of the season.
Binghamton played more aggressively after the break, outshooting Stony Brook 8-2, yet was never able to find the equalizer due to stellar defensive play from the Seawolves and Burke’s strong performance.
Needing a strong finish on Thursday to overcome an early deficit against Vermont in the semifinals, the opposite happened on Saturday — Stony Brook earned the advantage quickly and had to guard it for the rest of the match.
Even in an unusual spring season complicated by the threat of COVID-19, the Seawolves lived up to the preseason hype. After being selected as unanimous favorites in February, Stony Brook rolled through all the obstacles in its path on the road to a second straight championship.
The Seawolves will face Ohio State in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament, with the winner going on to face No. 11-seeded Santa Clara. The entire tournament this season will be held in Cary, North Carolina, and Stony Brook’s opening round contest will be scheduled for either April 27 or 28.