Goalkeeper Edmond Kaiser getting ready for a goal kick against Long Island University on Aug. 26. Kaiser has given up 0.75 goals against average this season. JOCELYN CRUZ /THE STATESMAN

The Stony Brook men’s soccer team would not be off to its best five-game start since 2004 if not for the work of junior goalkeeper Edmond Kaiser.

“It’s a good feeling to experience winning, because my first and second years were not as successful,” Kaiser said in an interview with The Statesman. “We’re building confidence going into those conference games. Winning feels good.”

The Seawolves, who are an impressive 4-1 so far, have quadrupled their win total from the 2020 season and have already matched the win total of the 2019 squad in less than one-third of the amount of matches played.

Kaiser believes that the biggest reason for their early success is the Seawolves’ new playing style, while also crediting improved team chemistry in boosting their level of play.

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“We have a different formation,” he said. “It helps us concede less goals … the team is also just closer together.”

Kaiser is off to a great start, and his performance has single-handedly raised the expectations for Stony Brook. He has already posted two clean sheet, and has only surrendered four goals in four matches. He credited the team’s defense for his personal success.

“We have great defenders who put a lot of effort in,” he said. “It makes my job way easier as a goalkeeper.” 

He’s not wrong.

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The Seawolves are allowing just a 33.3% shots on goal percentage so far, indicating a lack of good looks allowed. Last year, that percentage was over 50. This defense has been the guiding force to Stony Brook’s early success, giving this team an identity for the conference part of their schedule. 

Last season, Kaiser gave up 1.68 goals against average, but he has already reduced that number to 0.75 in 2021. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 season was pushed back to the spring of 2021, which Kaiser believes played a role in the team’s struggles.

“It was only eight games, so it was really not a lot,” Kaiser said. “[There were] no preseason games. We went in cold, and the season was already almost over.”

He also mentioned how the COVID-19 regulations hurt the team in regards to the work they were not able to put in. 

“It was a problem that we didn’t have enough practices,” he said. “We had a lot of off-time in between. We didn’t really have a routine, so that definitely affected us in the spring.”

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Kaiser thinks that the team can be even better than what has been shown so far, despite the 4-1 record, mentioning occasional lapses in concentration as one area that the team still needs to get better with. 

“If you look at the games, the results are good, but we always have situations in the game where we still struggle,” he admitted. “I still think we can get better and keep these results.”

Stony Brook’s goalie credited graduate defender Gabriel Fernandes’ leadership as a contributing factor to the 2021 team’s improvement. He also noted how junior defender Sebastian Rojek has played an integral role as a leader. 

“[Rojek] does a good job coordinating from the back to forward,” Kaiser said.

The Seawolves will need young players to break out in order for the team to eclipse its performance in conference play over the last two seasons. Kaiser specifically named sophomore forward Aki Solvason and freshman forward Jonas Bickus as names who will help guide the team past preseason expectations.

Already defying the odds, Stony Brook’s goalie must continue his trend of lockdown performances if the Seawolves are going to succeed in conference play and beyond.

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