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Stony Brook men’s soccer has one last chance to win regular season

Midfielder Trevor Harrison attempts a shot against Lafayette on Tuesday, Oct. 24. Harrison will look to continue his career-best season on Friday at William & Mary. GEORGE CARATZAS/THE STATESMAN

Currently mixed in a three-way tie atop the Coastal Athletic Association (CAA) table, the Stony Brook men’s soccer team has one last shot at the regular-season championship.

The Seawolves (6-5-4, 4-1-2 CAA) will travel to Virginia to face off against the William & Mary Tribe (2-8-5, 1-4-2 CAA) on Friday at 7 p.m. For William & Mary, the match has little importance since it sits at the bottom of the CAA. However, the battle for first is still alive for Stony Brook, and a win against the Tribe is all but required for it to finish in first place.

The Seawolves do not control their own destiny at this point in the season. If Stony Brook wins on Friday, it needs Monmouth or No. 22 Hofstra to lose or draw so it can jump back into the CAA’s top two. For the Seawolves to reclaim first place, both teams must lose or draw. If Stony Brook draws, it will need both the Hawks and the Pride to lose to jump back into first. A loss or wins by both would lock Stony Brook into third place.

Though the Seawolves’ scoring offense dropped from 11th to 19th in the nation with the shutout loss to Monmouth, they are still a dangerous force. Forward Jonas Bičkus leads their attack with eight goals, while fellow forward Olsen Aluc trails him with six. Both forwards are top ten goalscorers in the CAA, with Bičkus being tied for fourth and Aluc ranking tied for eighth.

Forward Moses Bakabulindi has helped set this offense up for success. Along with his one goal, Bakabulindi leads the team and is fifth in the CAA with seven assists. Aluc has also been an active playmaker, dishing out four assists. Midfielders Alex Fléury and Lorenzo Selini have each tallied four assists as well.

Midfielder Trevor Harrison is having a breakout year on offense, posting career highs with five goals and three assists.

William & Mary’s defense will need to step up to prevent Stony Brook from running up the score sheet. The Tribe have conceded 1.533 goals per match this season, which is the third-worst average in the CAA. 

Defenders Joe Core, Cole Knapp, Jack Crocco and Augie Cooper are the Tribe’s defensive regulars, with Cooper occupying the central defensive midfielder. Knapp, who was selected to the 2022 All-CAA Third Team, has started every game that he has played this year and leads all defenders on his team in minutes played.

Those four will have to help out William & Mary starting goalkeeper Cole McNally, who has struggled this season. McNally’s .681 save percentage is only 10th in the CAA.

Opposite McNally is goalkeeper Edmond Kaiser, who is arguably Stony Brook’s best player. He leads the CAA in saves (68) and saves per match (5.23). Even though Kaiser has faced a plethora of shots, he has maintained the fourth-highest save percentage (.782) in the CAA.

In front of Kaiser is Stony Brook’s backline, led by defenders Bas van Beckhoven, Sean Towey and Jon Jelercic alongside Selini. Midfielder Kyle Smith is back healthy and a more defensive-minded player who will help aid in their cause. The Seawolves have allowed 1.467 goals per match this year, which is dead in the middle (sixth) of the CAA’s 11-team pack.

The Tribe could look to leverage their height against a relatively short Stony Brook backline. Over the course of the season, William & Mary have only won 61 corner kicks, which is the third-fewest in the CAA. Without generating set pieces, the Tribe may not be able to send crosses into the box that they can head over the top of the Seawolves’ defenders.

William & Mary forward Lucas Caldas is the team’s most dangerous player on the pitch. Caldas leads his squad with five goals. Midfielder Aidan Morrison also creates consistent pressure, as he averages more than one shot on goal per game while also tallying four assists this year. Fellow midfielder Ian Krajna co-leads the Tribe with four assists, while also carrying one goal to his name.

If Stony Brook can grab at least one point on Friday night, it will turn its attention to Monmouth and Hofstra. The Hawks will host Campbell at 1 p.m., while the Pride will kick off at 6 p.m. versus Northeastern.

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