The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

53° Stony Brook, NY
The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


Men’s soccer, ahead of schedule, hopes for another trip to NCAA tourney

An unlikely conference championship and the resulting NCAA tournament bid found the Seawolves in Rhode Island last November, visiting Brown in the opening game of the national championship tournament.

After a 0-0 stalemate that lasted through regular time and the first overtime, Brown finally made the breakthrough in the second overtime, ending Stony Brook’s dream season.

But to head coach Cesar Markovic, entering his seventh season at the helm of the men’s soccer team, the trip to the tournament was an added bonus for his young team last season.

“We won a championship ahead of schedule,” he said.  “Expectations were not high last year.”

This year, Markovic said, the goal is clear: make it back to the NCAA tournament and play deep into the bracket.

“When you get a taste of something good, you want more,” he said. “But it’s a long road ahead of us.”

The first stop on that road is close to home, at Long Island rival Hofstra. Stony Brook plays at Hofstra on Wednesday, September 1 in what Markovic expects will be a heated battle.

“It’s a great rivalry, it draws big crowds,” Markovic said. “Most teams try to ease into the season, but we know with this team we will have a battle. It turns into a barnburner a lot of times.”

The Seawolves have played Hofstra every year since 2003, beating the Pride twice and losing on four occasions. The last time Stony Brook triumphed in the Long Island Derby was in 2007, when the Seawolves recorded a 3-1 win. In 2008, the teams played to a 2-2 (2OT) draw.

The Seawolves will benefit from the return of senior captain Mladen Ramic, who missed all of the 2009 campaign with an injury. Ramic will start at center back for Stony Brook.

Stony Brook also retains the services of 2009 America East Rookie of the Year Leonardo Fernandes and his central midfield partner, junior Wilber Bonilla.

Fernandes led the team with seven goals in 2009, including a cracking free kick to seal the America East title game. Markovic said that Fernandes will have his work cut out for him this season, as opposing defenses are sure to have their eyes on him.

“We won’t surprise anybody this year,” he said.

Markovic said he expects to see more out of Bonilla this season in terms of production, and has called on the transfer from Hartwick to play a greater role in creating from the midfield and scoring goals. Markovic said that Bonilla has put in the offseason work to raise his fitness level to where it needs to be to accomplish that.

The hero from last year’s conference title run that included a shootout victory, crowd-favorite goalkeeper Ante Rogic, has transferred out of Stony Brook. Taking his place will be sophomores Stefan Manz and Danny Bonomini, who are neck-and-neck for the starting job coming out of preseason, according to Markovic.

The team spent time in Ecuador this summer, preparing for the season by playing against professional clubs in a three-city tour. Markovic said that the trip was a “great learning experience from a soccer standpoint and from a cultural standpoint,” and said that the team was immersed in the South American style of soccer that they strive to emulate.

“We really got a chance to see a country where soccer is played very well, and similar to how we want to play it,” Markovic said.

Stony Brook’s conference schedule kicks off on October 2 when the Seawolves host Boston University. Boston was picked to finish in first by the preseason polls, edging Stony Brook by just one point and receiving the same number of first place votes.

Markovic said that while the team isn’t too concerned with the polls, it may add motivation in playing a team that will likely be challenging for the conference crown.

“That game is going to be two teams that will likely be around at the end,” Markovic said, pointing to the game as the most important on the schedule.

“It will be a good way to set the tone for the rest of the conference season.”

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Statesman

Your donation will support the student journalists of Stony Brook University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Statesman

Comments (0)

All The Statesman Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *