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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 opens 2023 CAA championship run against Elon

Several Stony Brook men’s soccer players celebrate a goal against Lafayette on Tuesday, Oct. 24. The Seawolves will make their Coastal Athletic Association playoff debut on Thursday against Elon. GEORGE CARATZAS/THE STATESMAN

The third-seeded Stony Brook men’s soccer team will look to regain its form in its first-ever Coastal Athletic Association (CAA) postseason appearance.

The Seawolves (6-5-5, 4-1-3 CAA) will face the sixth-seeded Elon Phoenix (5-8-3, 3-3-2 CAA) in the first round of the 2023 CAA men’s soccer tournament on Thursday. The match will kick off at 6 p.m. at Hesse Field: the home of the second-seeded Monmouth Hawks.

Both teams opened their conference schedules against each other on Sept. 1, with Stony Brook dominating Elon 4-0. However, a lot has changed since. After being unbeaten through the first six matches of the conference season, the Seawolves lost 2-0 to Monmouth and drew 0-0 at William & Mary to end the regular season. Those results sank them to third place in the CAA. 

On the other hand, Elon has taken the opposite journey to get to this point. After the blowout loss to Stony Brook, the Phoenix remained winless through five conference matches. However, three-straight victories catapulted Elon to sixth place, earning it the final playoff spot.

Much of the Phoenix’s recent success could be attributed to their rejuvenated defense, as they have given up just two goals over their last three matches. In those contests, defenders Myson Darden, Franc Gamiz Quer, Eddy Righetti and Ben Rosenblatt have made up Elon’s backline. Gamiz Quer has played in all 16 games this year and was named to the 2023 All-CAA Second Team. Midfielder Majaliwa Msabaha is a defensive midfielder whose prowess earned him a selection to the 2023 All-CAA Third Team.

Behind those five is goalkeeper Tomasz Wroblewski. Despite being the shot-stopper for the second-worst defense in the CAA, Wroblewski has performed adequately. He averages precisely five saves per game, which ranks second in the CAA. His .745 save percentage is the sixth-best figure in the conference.

Wroblewski and Elon’s defense will be busy if Stony Brook’s offense can get back on track. The dangerous Seawolves attack has been diffused in the last two conference games. Once a top-10 scoring offense in the nation, Stony Brook has dropped significantly in the leaderboard after suffering back-to-back shutouts in CAA play.

Still, the Seawolves have proven they could be lethal. They have the second-best attack in the conference at exactly two goals per game and are also second in assists per game (2.19). Their 12.44 shots per game are the fourth-best in the conference.

Forward Jonas Bičkus operates the prolific offense. His eight goals leads the team and is tied for fourth-most in the CAA. Bičkus has enjoyed playing conference opponents all season, as he has tallied six goals and an assist in those matches. Bičkus was also selected to the All-CAA Second Team this year.

Forward Olsen Aluc has also been dangerous for Stony Brook. A 2023 All-CAA Third Team selection, Aluc is second on the team in both goals (six) and assists (four).

Midfielder Trevor Harrison has posted good numbers as well, scoring five goals and dishing out three assists. Forward Moses Bakabulindi leads the team with seven assists, which ranks fifth in the CAA. Bakabulindi also scored his lone goal of the season against Elon.

Midfielder Alex Fléury is another vital contributor to the Seawolves’ attack. Part of the 2023 CAA All-Rookie Team, Fléury has one goal and four assists. Like Bakabulindi, his only goal came against the Phoenix.

Conversely, Elon’s offense has been poor by CAA standards. Its 1.19 goals per match are the third-worst in the conference. The Phoenix also average just eight in shots (11.93) and assists (1.06) per game in the CAA.

Elon forward Victor Stromsten and midfielder Scott Vatne co-lead the team with four goals and three assists each. Vatne leads the team with 37 shots and was selected to the 2023 All-CAA First Team. Gamiz Quer is the only other Phoenix with multiple goals this year.

While Stony Brook’s attack has come crashing back to Earth, its defense has remained consistent. The Seawolves are a middle-of-the-road defense team in the CAA, ranking sixth with 1.38 goals allowed per match.

Defenders Sean Towey, Jon Jeleric and Bas van Beckhoven — an All-CAA Second Team selection — and midfielder Lorenzo Selini occupy Stony Brook’s backline. Some have also contributed on the offensive end, as Selini has four assists while van Beckhoven has a goal and two assists. Defender Jacson Coppack has played in 12 games this year and made 10 starts while playing more minutes than Jelercic, who was an All-Rookie selection last year.

Behind them, goalkeeper Edmond Kaiser is having the best season of his collegiate career in his final year. He leads the conference with 76 saves, which ranks seventh in the nation. His 5.43 saves per match leads the CAA, while his .800 save percentage ranks third. His performance earned himself a selection to the All-CAA Third Team.

If the 2023 CAA Coach of the Year — Ryan Anatol — can lead Stony Brook past Elon on Thursday, it will return to the same pitch on Sunday to take on Monmouth.

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