December 7, 2012
Repost: Fernandes fuels Stony Brook's success
This is a repost of an Oct. 5, 2012 story
By Matt Levine
That Stony Brook is enjoying a strong start to its men's soccer season with seven wins should be no surprise.
The Seawolves, who are unbeaten in their last six matches, have not only played well as a unit, but have a major force in senior midfielder Leonardo Fernandes.
The North Babylon, N.Y. native has been a standout, scoring a goal in five consecutive games. The BigAppleSoccer.com men's player of the week's latest goal was in the 1-0 victory over Albany last Saturday. The Seawolves host Boston University at 7 p.m. on Friday.
When asked about his goal-scoring run, Fernandes was quick to put praise on his teammates.
“Good overall team play,” he said, adding that he has taken the chances he was given.
Coach Ryan Anatol said he felt Fernandes’ hard work has been a major factor in his success. “Leo spends a lot of time working around the goal and on his finishing,” he said.
When Anatol spoke of Fernandes’ playing style, one word really stood out.
“Creative,” he mentioned several times.
With a Brazilian background, that should not be very surprising.
Fernandes, 21, doesn’t visit his native Brazil too often -- his last visit was two summers ago to visit family -- but he still improves his game when there playing pick-up soccer with his uncle.
“In Brazil every player is technical, every player can dribble,” he said.
Although recognizing the more physical side of the American game, Fernandes felt that the technical side has been a main reason for his success at the collegiate level.
The 6-1, 165-lb. Fernandes’ creativity is a perfect match for the Seawolves system. “We prepare every game the same way,” Anatol said. “We want to play attractive attacking soccer,” citing Fernandes as one of the creative players who keep the team ticking with his strength in possession.
Leo’s father, who played professionally in Brazil, also has played a major role in his development as a player.
“He is at every home game, he talks with me after every game,” he said.
Not only is his father influential in his life as a player, but also off the field. “He is my biggest role model,” Fernandes said.
Besides his goals and creativity, it is Fernandes' leadership qualities that could lead the Seawolves to a successful season.
“I’m a senior, I’ve been here for four years. I know what needs to get done,” he said.
He added that he tries to show his younger teammates the right way to act and play at the collegiate level. For example, he took the time to show his new teammates around to make them more comfortable on campus.
Anatol backed that up, mentioning his training habits several times as Fernandes leads by example.
Although the senior’s eyes are firmly planted on having a successful season for Stony Brook, he does have aspirations of reaching the next level in the game.
“I would definitely like to go pro, either in MLS or going overseas,” he said.
Fernandes definitely has the right attitude and maturity to transition to a higher level in the game.
For now though, Fernandes is just like any other college kid.
When asked what he likes to do in his free time he answered, “aside from class, I like to play FIFA or hang out with friends. I really just try to relax.”