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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 shoots for regular-season title in battle for first

Midfielder Lorenzo Selini (foreground) sends a free kick into the box against Temple while defender Sean Towey (background) looks on. Selini and Towey will look to help shut down Monmouth’s top scorer on Friday. GEORGE CARATZAS/THE STATESMAN

With the regular season coming to a close, the Stony Brook men’s soccer team has a chance to clinch the Coastal Athletic Association’s (CAA) regular-season championship as early as Friday.

The Seawolves (6-3-4, 4-0-2 CAA) will look to continue their winning ways in the CAA against the Monmouth Hawks (6-3-4, 3-1-2 CAA) at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium on Friday at 1 p.m. This game will also be a battle for first place, as a win for Monmouth would allow it to leapfrog Stony Brook in the standings.

If the Seawolves win on Friday and Hofstra loses to or draws with Drexel on Saturday, then they clinch the regular-season title. Losing will make things complicated for Stony Brook.

The Seawolves have been exceptional at home this year, currently sitting at 5-2-1 overall and 3-0-0 against conference opponents. While their offense has been almost unstoppable at LaValle, averaging 3.25 goals and 15.38 shots per match.

The Seawolves boast one of the most prolific offenses in the CAA and the 11th-best attack in the nation this season. They are averaging 2.308 goals per match, tying them with Drexel for the most in the conference. The synergy between forwards Jonas Bičkus, Olsen Aluc and Moses Bakabulindi has been the driving force of the team’s offensive success.

Bičkus — a mainstay of Stony Brook’s offense — has led the charge and is tied for fourth in the CAA with seven goals, including four in his last four matches. Aluc has also spearheaded the offense with six goals and four assists. Bakabulindi has scored a goal and is tied for third in the CAA with seven assists. Midfielder Trevor Harrison has also contributed five goals and two assists. In total, 13 different Seawolves have logged a goal. Midfielder Amit Magoz is the only other multi-goal scorer on the team, tallying two goals and an assist.

As a team, Stony Brook is 10th in the nation in assists, with most of the facilitation coming from the backline. Midfielder Lorenzo Selini — who also handles the team’s corner kicks — has dished out four assists, while defender Bas van Beckhoven has recorded a pair. Midfielder Alex Fléury has contributed three assists along with his lone goal. Forward Caleb Danquah has made some plays as well, scoring one goal and tallying two assists as a rotational piece.

Forward Johan Velez is still in search of his first goal with the team after having his season delayed due to an injury. Velez scored five goals in each of the previous two seasons with Manhattan and was selected to the 2022 All-Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Third Team.

The Seawolves’ offense will have to find a way to beat the Hawks’ defense, which is the second-best in the CAA. Their 0.92 goals conceded per match trails only Hofstra’s 0.81.

Monmouth defenders Gabe Dahlin, Bastian Hatcher, Griffin Tomas and Olle Brorsson all have headlined the team’s backline this year. Dahlin is the linchpin of the defense, as he was selected to the 2022 All-CAA Third Team. Midfielders Patrick Osiecki and Erik Reis also contribute to the Hawks’ defense.

In net, Monmouth goalkeeper Eryk Dymora has had a solid season. Dymora ranks third in the CAA in goals allowed per match (0.923), fourth in save percentage (.778) and fifth in total saves (42). He has also posted four clean sheets.

Stony Brook’s defense has shown flashes of dominance but has also had lapses. Selini and van Beckhoven have played the majority of their minutes on the backline this year alongside defenders Sean Towey and Jon Jelercic. Jelercic, who was a 2022 All-CAA Rookie Team selection, has played well this season and been one of the defense’s bright spots.

Defender Jacson Coppack is the team’s top reserve on that end of the pitch. Midfielder Kyle Smith — a defensive-minded player like van Beckhoven and Selini — returned to the team on Tuesday against Temple after missing the previous six weeks due to injury. Smith may also see some minutes.

The Seawolves have played a “bend, do not break” style of defense this year, placing them seventh in goals allowed per match (1.31) this season. The defense owes much of its stability to goalkeeper Edmond Kaiser, as he leads the CAA in saves (63) and saves per game (5.25). His performance has placed him amongst the best in the NCAA, ranking sixth in saves per match and ninth in total stops.

Monmouth’s offense has put up respectable performances all season, sitting at sixth in average goals per game (1.39) in the CAA. The Hawks have struggled at times, putting up one goal or less in eight of their 13 matches this season.

Monmouth should not be discounted on the offensive side, as forward Ben Zakowski has been the best attacker in the conference all season long. He is first in shots per game (3.92) and game-winning goals (five) while also co-leading the CAA with 10 goals scored. He is one of only 18 players in the NCAA Division I to crack double digits in goals.

Besides Zakowski, there are not many goalscorers on the Hawks’ roster, as only seven total players have found the back of the net. Forward Arturo McConnochie and Dahlin have each scored two goals. Reis leads them with three assists, while nobody else has more than one.

As the conference’s top-four teams all face each other this weekend, the top seed in the upcoming 2023 CAA men’s soccer tournament may very well be determined tomorrow.

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