It was an afternoon 46 years in the making.
Since the inception of the boys’ soccer program in 1972, no team had won a postseason tournament in program history. That changed this afternoon when the third-seeded Bears upset defending champion #2 Long Island Lutheran in a thriller at Cantiague Park.
The Bears tied the Crusaders 1-1 in the first regular season match-up and lost 2-3 in the rematch at LuHi. The third clash had all the makings of a classic, and both teams delivered a physical and exhilarating match in front of over 150 Stony Brook fans that made the trek to Hicksville.
The opening 35 minutes were evenly matched as both squads sought to establish their own style of play: LuHi sending balls into space for their big, speedy forward, and the Bears using precision passing and off-ball movement to build up the wings. The Crusaders ended the stalemate, breaking through with a fastbreak goal with just 4:41 left in the half, a lead they would carry into the break.
All season long, the Bears had been a second-half team, scoring 45 second-half goals compared to 27 first-half goals, including two second frames in which they notched an incredible six. They lived up to their reputation today as they tucked away two for the deciding margin.
The Bears’ urgency was palpable in the opening moments of the final 40, and less than two minutes in, they equalized when Jai Narain, who was later named the Championship MVP, swooped in on a misplayed ball by LuHi’s physical keeper to knot the score. From there, each side had several tantalizing opportunities to take the lead, but both defenses remained stout. Midway through the half, Mo Romeus was taken down for a foul inside the box, earning a penalty kick attempt with 18:22 left on the clock. The sophomore forward strode up to the ball and drilled one of the biggest goals in Stony Brook history to give The Brook a 2-1 edge.
Romeus’ championship moment was not forged on a chilly afternoon in October but in the sweltering heat of a Long Island summer. All summer long, in the shadow of an empty Buyers’ Park, Romeus and Narain took hundreds of penalty kicks, preparing for a moment just like that. The hard work paid off.
Romeus’ strike gave the Bears their first lead in three match-ups vs. LuHi this season, and the defense ensured it held up. Carl Dohna, Jake Aretz, Aidan Mega, Brandon Gicquel, and Caleb Spreckels were an indispensable core in the backfield, chasing down fleet forwards, winning balls all over the field, and continually sending passes up to the playmakers. Lael Kutame, who made six saves in the win, was at his finest, aggressively leaving his line to beat forwards to balls on the lightning-fast artificial turf. LuHi would have several more meaningful chances, but Dohna, Spreckels, and Gicquel each erased one to keep the Bears in front.
As the minutes lurched forward, the Bears, instead of hanging on for the win, continued to force the action, nearly driving a nail in the coffin with under ten minutes left when a sensational Romeus cross and Ian Blunt header ricocheted off the face of LuHi’s keeper. Over the final stretch, the Bear defense remained an impenetrable wall. As the final seconds bled away, the Blue Fan Group poured over the fence and onto the field to celebrate the new kings of the PSAA and a fresh piece of Blue and White history.
With the victory, the Bears improve to 13-3-1 to break the program record for wins in a season set by the 1994 squad. The Bears now move on to the NYSAIS State Tournament and will find out their seed and opponent tomorrow afternoon.