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The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


    After first campaign, easy to see Anatol is the right fit

    From the start, Ryan Anatol preached the old cliché of taking things one day at a time. One day at a time, in his first season at the helm of Stony Brook men’s soccer, Anatol led the Seawolves to an America East championship.

    At first, the season didn’t look like much. The Seawolves got off to a very slow start, scoring in just two of the first six games and winning only one of them.

    But Anatol insisted the chances were there, and that the results would come. And come they did, in bunches. The Seawolves rolled through the final 13 games of the season to a conference title, winning nine of those games.

    The offense kept a blistering pace through those games, and it needed to – of those nine wins, only twice were the Seawolves able to keep their opponent off the board.

    A 3-1 setback at the hands of Hartford heading into the conference tournament wasn’t enough to slow the momentum of an explosive Stony Brook attack. Led by dynamic junior midfielder Leonardo Fernandes and junior forward Berian Gobeil Cruz, the Seawolves cruised past Albany, 3-1, in the semifinals.

    Stony Brook hosted Hartford with a chance for revenge at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium in the America East finals,  and Fernandes made sure the Seawolves took full advantage. He scored twice and assisted on a third, the best points performance in an America East tournament game ever. His eight points in the tournament was also a conference record, and he was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.

    The Seawolves traveled to New Jersey to play against Monmouth in the first round of the NCAA national championships. Even Fernandes couldn’t unlock the Hawks defense, and both Monmouth keeper Alex Blackburn and Seawolves goaltender Stefen Manz had brilliant games, keeping it scoreless through regular time and two overtime periods. Only a missed penalty kick by Antonio Crespi separated the two as the Seawolves fell in penalty kicks, 5-4.

    To say that Anatol inherited a roster full of talent would be absolutely true. The team already included 2010 and 2011 Midfielder of the Year Fernandes and 2011 Striker of the Year Gobeil Cruz, as well as 2011 All-conference first-teamer Kyle McTurk, a senior who anchored the defense all season long.

    But Anatol brought in a new emphasis, as the players began to work for each other on and off the ball and develop a real comraderie and love for the team that was made difficult in the past. The attitudes of the players and their mannerisms before and after the games made it clear that there was a new attitude about them, and Anatol and his staff brought that to Stony Brook.

    In addition to plenty of good players, Anatol was handed an excellent opportunity. Stony Brook has competed for the conference championship for several years running, the kind of performance that will help with recruiting.

    The key to cementing his place at Stony Brook – and Stony Brook’s place as a team to be reckoned with on the national stage – will come, as it often does, in the offseason. Anatol was known as a gifted recruiter at the University of South Florida. But it is somewhat easier to sell a perennial powerhouse in sunny Florida than it is an up-and-coming program in frigid New York.

    Recent successes will help, and with the progress the program has seen in just one year under Anatol, it would be tough to bet against him and Stony Brook soccer going forward.

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