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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


Stony Brook men’s soccer drops season opener to LIU

Forward Olsen Aluc leads the offense down the right sideline against LIU on Thursday, Aug. 24. The Stony Brook men’s soccer team lost its first game of the year to its crosstown rivals. MIKE ANDERSON/THE STATESMAN

The Stony Brook men’s soccer team did not get off to an ideal start against its crosstown rivals.

The Seawolves (0-1-0) opened up their 2023 season at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium against the Long Island University (LIU) Sharks, to whom they fell 2-1 in their Thursday night opener. While an errant own goal kept Stony Brook in the thick of things, the team never quite took control and let LIU walk away with the victory.

The Sharks attacked from the start, capitalizing on a defensive lapse by the Seawolves, leading to an easy goal in the sixth minute. Coming off a throw-in and a through ball, LIU midfielder Emil Jääskeläinen had his shot saved on a diving effort by goalkeeper Edmond Kaiser. However, LIU midfielder Matthew Salinas was there to bury the rebound into the back of the net, giving his team a 1-0 lead. 

Though outclassed in the opening minutes, Stony Brook bounced back and found its offensive rhythm. The team dominated possession for the rest of the half and went into halftime with 62% of the game’s possession.

The Seawolves had the ball deep in enemy territory for the rest of the opening half, but they needed help from the Sharks to find the equalizer. In the 35th minute, a pass from midfielder Trevor Harrison nailed LIU defender Papa Sow, whose clear attempt went awry. Bouncing off Sow’s leg, the ball found its way over LIU goalkeeper Eoin Gawronski and into the net.

Head coach Ryan Anatol attributed the initial stumble to the team’s inexperience.

“We had some young kids starting tonight, it was the first game [and] there were some nerves,” Anatol said in a postgame interview with The Statesman. “It took us a little bit of time to settle, but after that, I thought we were very good in the first half. I thought we played a lot of the game in their half … and we got a goal out of it.”

In the second half, the match continued to be even-keeled until the 74th minute when LIU went back on top. Coming from the left corner, Jääskeläinen backed down his defender and found forward Ben Assane Fall, who knocked in a towering header to give LIU a 2-1 lead. Over the final 16:56, Stony Brook had a few opportunities to tie the game but walked away empty-handed.

Anatol attributed Stony Brook’s loss to LIU’s second-half adjustments.

“I thought in the second half, we lost a little bit of the control,” Anatol said. “They were a little bit more aggressive defensively. They pressed us a little bit higher, and I just felt like we could have done a better job moving the ball.”

Anatol deployed a brand-new 4-2-4 formation on Thursday night, which the team is still trying to acclimate to.

“We are two weeks in [and] we are trying to put pieces together,” Anatol said. “Disappointed we didn’t get the win, but we have a few more guys we are looking to add and we are looking forward to it.”

While Stony Brook put together stretches of good effort and generated some quality opportunities, it failed to finish in the final third. The Seawolves mustered up 10 shots but only landed four on target, all of which were saved by Gawronski.

Forward Olsen Aluc did the best job generating chances for his team, as he attempted three shots and landed all of them on goal. Forward Jonas Bičkus generated the only other shot on target and took two shots in total.

The Sharks’ attack overwhelmed Stony Brook’s defense. They attempted 24 shots against the Seawolves and racked up 13 shots on goal.

Amidst the loss, Kaiser stepped up and kept LIU’s attacks at bay for most of the match. Kaiser kept Stony Brook close, ending the night with a career-high 11 saves. Seven of his stops came in the second half.

The Seawolves were missing two of their expected key players on Thursday night. Forward Johan Velez is still working his way back to the field after suffering a nagging leg injury during the preseason. Anatol said his timeline is unknown at the moment. Defender Iker Alvarado — who is expected to be one of the team’s starting center-backs — did not play, either.

Stony Brook will return to LaValle Stadium on Monday to host the Iona Gaels. The Gaels are 0-1-0 thus far after losing 1-0 to No. 15 Virginia on Thursday. Opening kickoff is slated for 6:31 p.m., as both sides hope for their first win of the year.

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