Men's Soccer upset by No. 5 UMBC in AE Semifinals

Midfielder Serge  Gamwanya passes the ball in a game against Umass Lowell on Oct. 16, 2016. SAMANTHA MONTES/STATESMAN FILE

It was just over a week ago when these two teams faced off, the No. 1 seeded Stony Brook men’s soccer team and No. 5 seeded University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). That game resulted in a tie, and the Seawolves had a week to prepare to beat the only team they tied in conference play.

The Retrievers were able to walk out of Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium victorious on Wednesday, Nov. 7.

“It’s a play that’s happened probably hundreds of times this season,” head coach Ryan Anatol said. “Unfortunately, sometimes it’s a game of inches and we made a mistake and it ended up costing us.”

Stony Brook’s defensive blunder in the 60th minute cost them a chance at the America East Championship. The team fell to UMBC 1-0 in the America East semifinal game Wednesday night, the third year in a row that Stony Brook has been knocked out of the America East tournament in the first game.

Junior defenseman Gustavo Fernandes went to head the ball back to freshman goalkeeper Christian Miesch, but Fernandes’ header sailed through Miesch’s hands. With the ball rolling slowly towards the net, UMBC’s junior forward Jordan Dove hammered the ball into the back of the netting, securing his first collegiate and game-winning goal.

“I thought we were playing really well,” Anatol said. “We came out in the beginning and in the second half with a lot of momentum. We were getting some good opportunities down in their end.”

The Seawolves controlled the pace for most of the contest, outshooting the Retrievers 15-13, all while maintaining a majority of possession. The only part of the field the team couldn’t capitalize on was the offensive third.

Shots fired from all over the field in the first half from Stony Brook, but the ball either sailed high over the crossbar or wide across the end line. UMBC’s counterattack was thwarted for the most part throughout the first half, but it did not stop UMBC from getting quality opportunities on net in the first 45 minutes.

The Seawolves seemed to have finally broken the stalemate in the 55th minute after junior striker Jarred Dass crossed the ball in the box and the Seawolves rifled it into the back of the net, with the team erupting into cheers moments after. It was waved off, however, as the referee on the sideline called the ball out of bounds before Dass’ cross. The goal was removed and a goal kick was awarded.

“At that point, we weren’t disappointed,” Anatol said. “We were feeling as though we were having some momentum and the opportunities were coming. We felt like we were wearing on them, and then a goal really out of nothing.”

Minutes later, UMBC scored and Stony Brook needed a response. The team continued to push offensively with even more crosses and shots, but those would lead to no avail, as the final whistle sounded at the 90th minute and UMBC stormed the field to celebrate the upset.

The Seawolves season ends with the team graduating two seniors, midfielders Serge Gamwanya and Martieon Watson. Anatol expressed his gratitude towards both players for their contributions on and off the field the past four years and is excited to see what lies ahead for both.

“It’s tough. Two guys that have been with us for four years,” Anatol reflected. “Two guys who have had a huge impact on the program and a lot of success individually. I’m very proud that they can leave with a season where they get to lift an America East regular season championship, something that hasn’t been done in a long time. I’m thankful and look forward to their continued success long after they leave.”

UMBC will travel north to the America East Championship Finals on Nov. 11 to face No. 2 seeded New Hampshire. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. from Wildcat Stadium.