After a hat trick by Iona forward Camil Azzam Ruiz, the Stony Brook men’s soccer team is still in search of its first win.
Now with school officially in session, the Seawolves (0-2-0) were hoping to reward their home crowd with a win over the Iona Gaels (1-1-0). However, Stony Brook failed to defend Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium and fell short, losing 3-2.
Iona dominated the first half, controlling the ball and dictating the tempo. The Gaels continually put pressure on the Seawolves’ defense and finally broke through in the 34th minute. After creating space to shoot, Azzam Ruiz snuck a shot through a wall of Stony Brook defenders and into the back of the net.
The Gaels lived in the Seawolves’ territory, as they had possession of the ball for approximately 58% of the first half. Meanwhile on offense, Stony Brook failed to register a shot on goal during the first 45 minutes.
After the match, head coach Ryan Anatol said that the team has to do a much better job of protecting its own side of the pitch.
“We can’t give them three goals and expect to win the game,” Anatol said in a postgame interview with The Statesman. “[I’m] a little disappointed with the first 45 [minutes]. I just felt like we gave them a little too much time and space.”
The second half was dramatic, as the Seawolves came out of halftime with a different intensity. In the 60th minute, forward Moses Bakabulindi found midfielder Amit Magoz with a header, splitting the defense and giving Stony Brook a scoring chance. Magoz broke through the Gaels’ backline, rounded Iona goalkeeper Nacho Alfaro Monge and found the back of the net, equalizing the game 1-1 with 30:40 remaining.
Just under three minutes later, goalkeeper Edmond Kaiser vacated his spot in net and attempted to intercept Iona forward Matias Morales’ long ball. Instead, Kaiser collided with defender Jacson Coppack, allowing Azzam Ruiz to effortlessly take the loose ball and bury it for his second goal of the night. In the 67th minute, Azzam Ruiz struck a bending ball beyond the reach of Kaiser and into the bottom right corner of the net, securing his hat trick and giving the Gaels a 3-1 lead.
Despite Iona’s dominance, Stony Brook did not go away quietly. Just 49 seconds after Azzam Ruiz’s third goal, forward Olsen Aluc tucked in a rebound from close range and cut his team’s deficit down to just one goal.
After Aluc’s goal, the Seawolves continued to intensify pressure on the Iona backline, firing three more shots within a minute. In the 72nd minute, they lost a player when midfielder Trevor Harrison was shown a red card, forcing them to play down one player for the rest of the match.
Down a man, the Seawolves kept hunting for an equalizer. In the 73rd minute, midfielder Alex Fléury squared a ball inside the penalty area to Bakabulindi, but he sailed his shot over the goal. Stony Brook never generated a better opportunity after that and walked away with the loss.
The Seawolves had an impressive second half, putting up twice the number of shots (14) as Iona (seven). They also won four corner kicks in the final frame while the Gaels earned none.
Though playing 10-against-11, Anatol was impressed with his team’s performance in the second half.
“We still created chances even though we went down a man,” Anatol said. “I thought it started with our intensity and our defending. We wanted to be more aggressive and press them higher up the field.”
Overall, Stony Brook took 16 shots and landed five on target. Aside from their goal-scorers, the Seawolves also had four players pick up an assist: Bakabulindi, Harrison, midfielder Bas Beckhoven and defender Sean Towey.
Iona took 11 shots but was very efficient, totaling eight shots on goal. The Gaels made life difficult for Kaiser, who saved only four of the seven shots he faced. Azzam Ruiz had a huge day, attempting six shots and landing four on goal.
Stony Brook will wrap up its opening homestand this Saturday with its conference opener. The team will host the Elon Phoenix (1-1-0), who are the Coastal Athletic Association’s reigning regular-season champions. Opening kickoff is set for 2 p.m.