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Stony Brook women’s soccer has must-win affair ahead at Charleston

The Stony Brook women’s soccer team celebrates a goal against William & Mary on Sunday, Oct. 1. The Seawolves have a must-win game at Charleston tomorrow. MACKENZIE YADDAW/THE STATESMAN

Now on the outside looking in at the Coastal Athletic Association (CAA) playoff picture, the Stony Brook women’s soccer team is in must-win mode.

Reeling from a narrow 1-0 loss on Thursday, the Seawolves (4-5-4, 2-4-2 CAA) will face the Charleston Cougars (2-8-3, 2-4-2 CAA) on Sunday at Ralph Lundy Field. The two teams are part of a three-way tie for seventh place in the CAA table. Opening kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.

In its recent slate of matches against — aside from its 4-0 rout of William & Mary — Stony Brook has struggled mightily. The up-and-down performance of this group has been a contributor to the Seawolves’ inconsistencies this year. They rank fourth in the CAA in goals per game (1.615) but have also been shut out five times. The team has been blanked in three of its last four matches.

Forwards Reilly Rich and Gabrielle Côté have topped the bill up front, with six and four goals, respectively. Rich ranks fourth in the conference in goals scored, while Côté comes in at ninth. However, Rich is currently out with an injury, and the team has suffered without her.

Forward Luciana Setteducate has helped facilitate the offense with a team co-leading three assists. Fellow forward Graceann Murphy has chipped in a pair of goals and an assist, as well.

Midfielder Linn Beck has had a down sophomore year, but still has scored two goals and co-leads the team with three assists alongside Setteducate. Midfielder Ashley Manor has also scored two goals while also making contributions on defense.

Stony Brook’s talented attack and midfield will command attention from Charleston’s defense, as it has allowed the fourth-most goals per match in the conference (1.38). Fortunately for the Cougars, their backline has been in good form recently, allowing just three goals in the five matches prior to their most recent game.

Charleston defender Shae Yocum headlines the group, as she was selected as CAA Defensive Player of the Week earlier in the season and was named to the 2022 All-CAA Third Team last year. Other defenders along the Cougars’ backline are Emmie Wannemacher, Lilli Ray and Emma Revels. Defender Izzy Arnold is their top back off the bench.

They will look to lighten the load of Charleston goalkeeper Savannah Barron, who leads the conference in saves (47) and is fourth in save percentage (.783).

For the Seawolves, their defense ranks in the middle of the pack, conceding 1.23 goals per match. The group is anchored by their co-captains: defenders Catharina von Drigalski and Kerry Pearson. Defender Aneta Sovakova is the team’s other full-time starter on the backline, while the rest are rotational pieces such as defenders Emma Beattie and Angelina Lent. Midfielder Gabby Daniels plays the role of defensive midfielder for Stony Brook. 

They will hope to make goalkeeper Nicolette Pasquarella’s job easier. The team has allowed 1.5 goals per game over the last six contests, but Pasquarella is having another good individual season. Her 46 saves are the third-most in the CAA, and she has posted a .742 save percentage.

The Seawolves’ defense has a relatively tough task at hand, as the Cougars’ offense is deep. They feature 10 different players who have scored a goal, with freshmen forwards Bella Antonio and Shea Vidovic headlining the group with three apiece. Forwards Olivia Freitas and Delaney Dawes along with midfielder Abby Fisher have each chipped in two goals.

Charleston is also very generous, as their 1.385 assists per match are fourth in the CAA. Bella leads the team with three assists, while Vidovic, Freitas, Fisher, Revels and forward Mary Alexander all have dished out a pair.

As for playoff implications, the winner of this match will be in sole possession of the seventh spot. However, if Delaware wins on Sunday, there will be a two-way tie for seventh place. If the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) loses, then Stony Brook will have a chance to get even with it in the standings. However, UNCW owns the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Seawolves, which would effectively keep them in seventh place.

Given the implications of this game, it may very well determine the outcome of Stony Brook’s 2023 season.

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