Men's soccer kicks off 2013 Friday night vs. Sacred Heart

Shane Wixted

Aug 29, 2013

2013 Stony Brook Men's Soccer

Game #1:
Stony Brook #Seawolves (0-0-0)
vs. Sacred Heart Pioneers (0-0-0)

Friday, Aug. 30  •  LaValle Stadium  •  Stony Brook, N.Y.  •  7:30 p.m.

Stony Brook #Seawolves (0-0-0, 0-0-0 America East)
Head Coach: Ryan Anatol, third season
Career Record: 21-12-5
Record at SB: same

Sacred Heart Pioneers (0-0-0, 0-0-0 NEC)
Head Coach: Joe Barroso, ninth season
Career Record: 190-185-37
Record at SHU: 68-59-17 

The Matchup: Stony Brook opens the 2013 season with a lot of fresh faces on its young roster, but the goal remains the same as the Seawolves seek out their fourth conference championship in program history. They open the campaign with a home match against the Sacred Heart Pioneers, who make the short trip across the Long Island Sound from Fairfield, Conn. This is the 16th all-time meeting between these two teams, and the Seawolves lead the series 10-3-3, including a 2-1 win last season on the road. Sacred Heart did steal a victory at LaValle Stadium two seasons ago by the score of 1-0.

Scouting Sacred Heart: The Pioneers, just two seasons removed from an NEC regular season championship, are looking to get back into the championship race after missing the NEC Tournament in 2012 on a tiebreaker. The team returns seven starters from last season, but loses the services of All-American defender Marcelo Castro, who not only played outstanding defense, but also was the team's leading scorer with nine goals and two assists. Sacred Heart will replace its entire back line after losing all four starting seniors. Ronaldo Vieira and Mahmoud Kafel are the leading returning scorers with seven points apiece. Sacred Heart has been picked to finish fourth in the NEC preseason poll.

Welcome Everybody: The Seawolves have a lot of new faces on the roster in 2013 as they brought in 16 newcomers, including 13 true freshmen. The 16 newcomers represent a mix of talent across all positions and from numerous different parts of the world. The 16 newcomers are from six different countries (including the U.S.).

Preseason Pick: Despite losing seven letterwinners to graduation, including three of the top four scorers, the Seawolves are still highly regarded among the America East men's soccer coaches. Stony Brook was picked to finish second in the eight-team conference by the coaches in the preseason poll. The Seawolves received one first-place vote and finished second to defending America East tournament champion UMBC. Last season's regular season champion, Vermont, was third followed by Hartford, New Hampshire, Albany, Binghamton and league newcomer UMass Lowell.

Tough Schedule: The Seawolves annually challenge themselves against stiff competition, and 2013 will be no different. Stony Brook will play six opponents that finished in the top 75 in the NCAA RPI last season, including three teams (Northeastern, Drexel, UMBC) that advanced to the NCAA Tournament. The Seawolves themselves are a quality matchup for teams as they finished at No. 55 in the NCAA RPI, the highest finish in program history.

Going for 4: The Seawolves are in search of their fourth America East conference championship in program history. Since joining the conference in 2001, the Seawolves have qualified for postseason play seven times, reached the semifinals six times, advanced to the title game three times and won all three. Stony Brook will look to gain home field advantage in postseason as the program is undefeated in America East Championship home games (6-0-2).

What a Pro: Former Seawolves All-American and three-time America East Midfielder of the Year Leonardo Fernandes has moved on to become the first Stony Brook men's soccer player to appear in an MLS game since Chris Megaloudis in 2008 (New York Red Bulls). After being selected in the MLS Supplemental Draft by the Philadelphia Union, Fernandes won a spot on the roster and then made his first appearance on May 18, 2013 against Chicago. He then made three starts for the Union in early July, playing a career-high 86 minutes against Real Salt Lake on July 3.

Coach Anatol: The Seawolves are in good hands under third-year head coach Ryan Anatol, who has led Stony Brook to back-to-back 10-win seasons in his first two years and took the program to the NCAA Tournament in 2011. The NCAAs have been a staple in his coaching career. He went to the NCAA Tournament eight times as an assistant coach at South Florida and Akron, including an appearance in the quarterfinals in 2008.

Up Next: The Seawolves will be back in action on Friday, Sept. 6 when they play at Penn at 5 p.m.