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College Soccer

COLLEGE SOCCER

November 15, 2009
GOING TO THE DANCE
Stony Brook men earn America East title, clinch NCAA Division I berth


Leonardo Fernandes scored for Stony Brook in its 2-0 America East final win over the University of Maryland-Baltimore County.
Leonardo Fernandes scored for Stony Brook in its 2-0 America East final win over the University of Maryland-Baltimore County.
Photo courtesy of Stony Brook SID
Stony Brook, N.Y. -- Freshmen have been the story all season long for the Stony Brook men’s soccer team and the America East championship game against the University of Maryland-Baltimore County was no different.

Freshmen Leonardo Fernandes and Raphael Abreu scored second-half goals as the second-seeded Seawolves earned an NCAA Division I men's tournament bid with a 2-0 victory over fifth-seeded UMBC in the America East final Sunday.

Redshirt freshman goalkeeper Anthony Rogic (Boonton, N.J.) kept the game scoreless, saving Levi Houapeu’s penalty kick in the 37th minute. Stony Brook (6-9-4), which did not allow a goal in the conference playoffs for the third time in America East history and advanced to the NCAA College Cup for the first time since 2005, extended its unbeaten streak to seven games and is 6-9-4. UMBC fell to 14-6-0.

“What a great feeling this is,” Stony Brook coach Cesar Markovic said. “Our fans have been great all year and wouldn’t let us lose. When Rogic made that save, I thought that was the turning point. You have to credit a great UMBC team. They played us tough twice this year but we’re happy to be moving on.”

Despite being outshot by Stony Brook, 23-11, UMBC recorded four of the first five shots. Fernandes (North Babylon, N.Y.) had the Seawolves' first quality attempt but his header went high over the crossbar. Nearly three minutes later, a tremendous effort by Abreu (New York, N.Y.) almost put Stony Brook ahead. Sophomore Wilber Bonilla (Brentwood, N.Y.) dribbled around two defenders and slipped a pass to Abreu, whose body was going away from the shot, saved by goalkeeper Phil Saunders.

Rogic, who saved two penalty kicks in the shootout win over Hartford Wednesday, was tested in the same manner once again. A foul in the box gave Houapeu a penalty kick but Rogic anticipated the shot and dived to his left to make the stop. Even though the ball squirted away, Rogic jumped on the ball and corralled it.

Following a second yellow card on a UMBC player that gave Stony Brook a one-man advantage in the 67th minute, the Seawolves took a 1-0 lead less than two minutes later. A service into the box caused a scrum between Abreu, a UMBC defender and Saunders. But Abreu came out with the ball and put it towards the bottom left corner of the goal for the score.

Aside from the penalty kick opportunity, UMBC’s best chance came in the 74th minute. Andrew Bulls sent a corner kick into space, which found the foot of Dustin Dzwonkowski, but his shot went high over the crossbar as the equalizer was averted.

On Stony Brook’s next possession, Fernandes, the America East rookie of the year put the game away. Following a foul, Fernandes sent the free kick towards the left upper 90 for the goal. It was Fernandes’ team-leading seventh goal, which tied him with Shane Arikian ’04 for the most goals by a freshman in the program’s Division I history.

Along with Rogic, who was named the America East tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, seniors Collin Geoghegan (Lindenhurst, N.Y.) and Damion Brown and junior Greg Tinari (Holbrook, N.Y.) were named to the tournament team.

Stony Brook will await its fate as the NCAA announces the College Cup brackets on Monday between 5:30-6 p.m. live on ESPNews. First round action begins Thursday.
 
 
 
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