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Olsen Aluc biting the injury bug back in senior season

Forward Olsen Aluc runs down the sideline against Iona on Monday, Aug. 28. Aluc is having a breakout start to his 2023 season. TIM GIORLANDO/THE STATESMAN

After having the worst offense in the conference in 2022, head coach Ryan Anatol needed to add new flavor to the Stony Brook men’s soccer team’s attack. He brought in five new forwards through high school recruiting and the transfer portal to remedy the team’s struggles.

Looking from afar, those moves appear to be paying dividends, as the Seawolves currently own the second-highest scoring offense in the Coastal Athletic Association. Their 1.80 goals per match trails only Delaware, who is at 2.40. However, the player who has made the most impact on this revamped offense is not a new player, but rather one who sat and watched his teammates struggle all year long in 2022.

Now in his fourth year in college, forward Olsen Aluc has finally broken out. Through the first six matches, he leads the team with three goals, seven shots on target and 11 total shots. Starting with the second match of the season, Aluc went on a three-game scoring streak, becoming the first Seawolf to accomplish that since former forward Jarred Dass in 2018.

Aluc is in the best playing shape of his college career, which has propelled him to his early-season success.

“I feel lighter and in better shape on the field,” Aluc said in an interview with The Statesman. “I always knew that as long as I’m in shape, I can make things happen.”

The irony in Aluc feeling healthy is that he is precisely not that, nor has he ever been since making it to the NCAA. Most of his time in college soccer has been spent on the sidelines due to injuries.

Aluc first arrived on the campus of Manhattan College, where he spent the first two years of his NCAA career. He played in all six of the Jaspers’ matches as a freshman in the spring of 2021 and showed out, landing six shots on goal and scoring once. He even earned the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Rookie of the Week in the same week he scored. However, he missed his entire sophomore season due to injury.

Before his third year, Aluc expected his role with Manhattan to be diminished due to the injury. With guidance from his parents, he made the decision to enter the transfer portal.

The decision to join Stony Brook was an easy one for Aluc.

“It’s close to home,” Aluc said. “I know Coach Ryan because he was trying to recruit me … during my senior year of high school. I know him a little bit more than any other coach. It was the right move for me.”

Tendonitis in his left adductor has hindered Aluc’s career with the Seawolves as well. He missed five matches in 2022 and only started two of his 11 appearances, totaling just 245 minutes. His only contribution to the scoreboard was an assist in the season finale against Drexel.

Constantly needing to recover stunted Aluc’s development, which spoiled his first season with Stony Brook.

“I was still recovering … in the spring, and even in the summer I was just doing rehab,” Aluc said. “I was not in the same shape as the other guys, so it was challenging for me to compete the way I wanted to.”

To make up for time that he lost to injury, Aluc spent the offseason working vigorously in the gym. By Anatol’s own account, Aluc’s hard work led to him having the best spring season on the team. His performance in the spring scrimmages earned him more trust from Anatol, leading to higher expectations for the ongoing season.

He is still rehabbing from his adductor injury to this day, forcing Anatol to put him on a minutes restriction. Aluc has played through the injury and appeared in all five games, but he has only played 273 minutes, which is only the 10th most on the club.

Despite constantly going through the recovery process and missing lots of time, Aluc has never lost confidence.

“No matter what happens I always believe in myself,” Aluc said. “I know that when the time comes, when it’s my turn, I’m going to be playing and I have to work hard.”

Being a late bloomer in the NCAA is not the only thing on Aluc’s soccer resumé. Before college, he found steady success playing for both his national team and in club soccer.

Aluc was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and represented his home country in the 2019 U-17 World Cup in Brazil. Aluc sees this as the biggest accomplishment of his career.

“It’s amazing,” Aluc said. “Singing the national anthem, getting goosebumps [and] butterflies. It gave [me] a hint of what playing professionally feels like.”

Playing for Haiti meant a lot to Aluc. Though he moved to the United States at 13 years old, he never forgot his roots.

“Home is home,” Aluc said. “Obviously, I would like to be in my country right now, but there are political issues happening right now. I can’t be there.”

Aluc had been scouted by the Haitian national team since he was still living there, but his travel soccer play for the Lake Grove Soccer Club on Long Island solidified his spot at the World Cup.

While playing for Lake Grove, Aluc helped his team take over New York State. The team claimed the Jefferson and New York City cups. They also became champions of the Eastern New York Statewide, US Youth Soccer National North Mid/South Atlantic and Region 1 Eastern Regional leagues.

Aluc’s performance while playing club soccer was impressive enough to earn him multiple Division I opportunities despite not playing for Connetquot High School. Aluc’s most enticing offers came from Manhattan, Stony Brook, American University and Binghamton University.

Aluc’s play this season has inched him closer to his ultimate goal: becoming a professional soccer player.

“Obviously my goal is soccer,” Aluc said. “That’s what I’ve been doing since I was born, so it’s my passion and I plan on taking it to the next level after my college career.”

He has time to think about his future though, as he still has two more years of NCAA eligibility left. As of now, he plans to come back to Stony Brook, but it is unclear how long he wants to stay.

Though Aluc’s college career has ebbed and flowed because of his health, he is trending in the right direction. In his most recent match at Hofstra, he played his highest number of minutes (85) of the season. Given what he has accomplished already while playing hurt, Aluc’s improving health may lead to one of the best individual seasons by a Seawolf in years.

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About the Contributor
Alex Streinger, Assistant Sports Editor
Alex Streinger is an Assistant Sports Editor of The Statesman. He is a junior majoring in journalism and minoring in political science. He is the beat reporter of the Stony Brook men’s soccer and nationally-ranked women’s lacrosse teams. He interns at Movendi International, the largest independent global social movement for development through alcohol prevention.
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