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High-flying offense leads Stony Brook women’s soccer to first win of 2023

Defender Kerry Pearson launches a free kick in a match against UMass on Thursday, Aug. 17. Pearson’s strong defensive performance led the Stony Brook women’s soccer team to its first win of the year on Thursday. MIKE ANDERSON/THE STATESMAN

In its most well-rounded performance of the season thus far, the Stony Brook’s women’s soccer team picked up its first win of the year.

The Seawolves (1-1-1) wrapped up their opening three-game homestand with a dominant 3-1 victory over the Lafayette Leopards (2-1-0) on Thursday afternoon. Stony Brook’s high-powered offense allowed it to cruise to a win, while its defense may have displayed its best showing of the new year.

It did not take long for the Seawolves to get on the board. In the 14th minute, a cross from forward Gabrielle Côté ricocheted off a Lafayette defender and over the top of goalkeeper Lindsay Dewar for an own goal. Stony Brook’s momentum continued, as it took eight more shots throughout the remainder of the first half.

The Seawolves offense continued to wreak havoc early in the second half. In the 55th minute, a precise header from forward Luciana Setteducate set up forward Reilly Rich with a one-on-one with Dewar. Rich put it past her with ease to double the lead. Just 11 minutes later, Côté outpaced the defense to track down a through ball before dribbling past the nearest defender. Now with space to shoot, Côté buried a left-footed shot past Dewar’s dive and into the back of the net.

In the 72nd minute, Lafayette spoiled the clean sheet with a penalty make from forward Rory Schauder to cut the score 3-1. However, a couple of takeaways from Stony Brook’s defense slammed the door on a possible comeback, securing its first win of the season.

After losing and drawing the first two matches respectively, head coach Tobias Bischof was pleased to finally earn the win.

“We were waiting for it,” Bischof said in a postgame interview with The Statesman. “I thought we were ready for those first few games … the results didn’t go our way. But, today I thought we did a good job overall and [I’m] happy with the result.”

Côté finally broke out after missing a pair of sitters through the first two matches.  She felt a sense of relief following her efforts of forcing an own goal and scoring her first actual goal of the season.

“Today felt so so good,” Côté said. “I’ve been waiting for that first goal to finally go in. First game I had a pretty big opportunity that I missed, it was really hard to get over that one. To get [my first] goal was the cherry on top.”

Côté was not alone on offense, as the team combined to attempt 17 shots while landing nine on goal. The Seawolves’ nine shots on goal equaled their total through the first two games. Through its first three games of the season, Stony Brook has been significantly ahead in creating chances, attempting 43 shots to its opponents’ 26.

Rich was dangerous all day, attempting four shots and landing three of them on net; her goal was her first of the season. Setteducate led the team with five shots and landed two on goal. She also scored an offside goal. Midfielder Linn Beck along with forwards Hannah Maracina and Ashley Bell each contributed one shot on goal.

Rich credits Stony Brook’s offensive dominance to its depth of talent.

“Something that is special about this team is our offense’s diversity,” Rich said. “We are threatening to other teams. It is not just one person that creates everything.”

While the offense headlined the victory, the defense played a role in the team’s performance. The Seawolves dominated the ball and were quick to win possession on any potential attacking plays from Lafayette. They held the Leopards to just seven shots and two shots on goal.

Defender Kerry Pearson was the most active disruptor on the defensive side of the ball, as she won multiple pivotal battles for the ball that led to more offensive opportunities.

Bischof had high praise for Pearson’s performance after the match.

“Kerry is our captain; she is a part of our backbone,” Bischof said. “She is very solid. She had a great game today.”

The defense’s performance made life easy for goalkeeper Nicolette Pasquarella. She was only tested twice and recorded one save while surrendering just one goal off the set piece.

Stony Brook will now play its first game away from Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium this weekend when it takes on the Merrimack Warriors in Massachusetts on Sunday. The Warriors are 1-1-0 on the season and are coming fresh off a 4-1 loss to Vermont on Sunday. Opening kickoff is scheduled for noon.

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