Head coach Tobias Bischof said one week ago that the Stony Brook women’s soccer team would be a force to be reckoned with once its offense developed chemistry. With two wins at home this week — against Cornell on Friday, Sept. 17 and in their conference opener against Albany on Sunday, Sept. 19 — they proved him right.
“We find our balance now a little bit more and often,” Bischof said in an interview with The Statesman on Sunday. “Especially on Friday, Friday we scored four goals and we had eight girls included in the [scoresheet] as a goal scorer or as an assist.”
Stony Brook now owns a three-game win streak which began last Sunday with an overtime win over St. Joseph’s, moving back to .500 at 4-4-1 (1-0 AE).
Junior goalkeeper Emerson Richmond Burke had a career-high 12 saves in Sunday’s 2-1 win, but her performance was overshadowed by two midgame leg injuries. Freshman forward Aneta Sovakova and Albany freshman forward Shannon Litchfield both took hard falls while playing defense and twisted their knees on the way down.
Sovakova later returned to the sideline with crutches and a bandage around her leg, but Litchfield did not reappear after she was half-carried off the field. An eerie silence fell over the stadium for nearly thirty minutes after her injury.
The crowd was raucous, though, while Stony Brook built an early 2-0 lead. Graduate midfielder Chelsie DePonte scored in the 15th minute by weaving through two defenders off an assist from Sovakova, and sophomore defender Kerry Pearson scored on a free kick in the 43rd minute — a goal she claims was accidental.
“Honestly, I was not trying to shoot it,” Pearson said. “I was trying to find [graduate forward] Alyssa [Francese’s] head like we did in the Cornell game, but it was low enough and wide enough so it just hit the inside post and went in.”
The mood changed once Sovakova went down, but Burke and the Seawolves became even more focused. Nine of Burke’s saves came after the injury. She also drew a yellow card in the 83rd minute while trying to prevent a shot from inside the box and blocked the ensuing penalty kick with her most impressive leap of the day.
“We just have to go out and play for them,” Burke said. “We’re family. We always say ‘we over me.’ Every time something happens, we just go out there harder and work for them.”
It was the Seawolves’ 11th straight win at home, a streak that is fifth-best in the nation. It is also the fourth year in a row they’ve won their conference opener.
Friday’s 4-3 victory over Cornell was equally impressive. Senior midfielder Mari Brenden scored from a distance with three minutes left in regulation to send the game to overtime, where Francese quickly headed in a Pearson free kick to win the match. DePonte and sophomore defender Emma Beattie also added goals.
“I felt that as a team we didn’t give up even though they scored late in the second half,” Brenden said in a press release. “We kept going and we had a lot of players up on offense. When I won the ball and got it under control, I looked up and saw that the goalie came out so I just went after it and took the shot. It was such a good feeling and I’m just so happy and proud of the team being able to come back and win in overtime.”
The Seawolves return to action next Sunday, Sept. 26 on the road against Vermont.