With the playoffs just around the corner, the Binghamton University women’s soccer team entered last night’s match looking for an important win. Battling through cold and rainy conditions, the Bearcats settled for a tie with America East opponent University of New Hampshire in double overtime.
The Bearcats (4-10-2, 2-3-2 AE), currently seventh in the America East with eight points, put themselves in position to contend for the conference’s final playoff spot this weekend.
With a win, Binghamton would have controlled its own destiny for reaching the conference tournament. Instead, Binghamton’s hopes are tied with Maine’s.
Since Binghamton beat Maine earlier this season, the Bearcats need at least a tie over Stony Brook plus a Maine loss to seize the final playoff berth. Maine, currently in sixth place with nine points, battles first-place Boston University on Sunday. The Terriers, 7-0-0 in America East play, have yet to surrender a goal to a conference opponent.
Should Binghamton defeat Stony Brook, Maine could tie Boston and the Bearcats would still clinch the final spot. However, a Maine victory eliminates Binghamton from tournament play.
Yet the Bearcats remain confident and were optimistic about the outcome of the match last night.
‘We wanted a win, but with the tie and a good performance, we have confidence and an extra boost [for] the tough task on Sunday,’ said BU head coach Sarah McClellan. ‘That’s what we can take from it and we feel good going into Sunday.’
Binghamton, which has struggled offensively this season, showed confidence in the attacking half, displaying solid ball movement and creating opportunities.
‘I thought our overall performance was outstanding,’ McClellan said. ‘New Hampshire is No. 2 in the conference right now, and I felt like we had a great game of possession and attack. I feel really good about our overall performance.’
Binghamton pressured the Wildcats (8-6-4, 4-2-1 AE) early, creating scoring chances throughout the first half. In the 29th minute, sophomore Sarah Furminger, who has been nominated for America East Soccer Fans’ Choice Player of the Year, rattled a shot off the crossbar, but it banked straight down.
The Bearcats took the lead in the 56th minute when sophomore forward Jamie Holliday connected from 20 yards out. Holliday fired a shot from a 45-degree angle, curling the ball just into the upper 90.
Although it is rarely a successful shot, Holliday was able to convert it from the wide angle.
‘I think Jamie knew exactly what she was doing,’ McClellan said of the goal. ‘She’s a good player, she’s a dangerous player and she’s a great forward for us. Jamie had a couple of other great chances too, but a great finish by her on the goal.’
Holliday nearly struck again in the 61st minute on a shot just outside of the post. In the team’s upcoming match, McClellan expects a lot out of Holliday and her fellow forwards.
‘[Holliday's] going to need to have another great performance for us on Sunday,’ she said. ‘We’re counting on her, along with all of our other attacking forwards, to get the ball in the back of the net.’
Binghamton came within two minutes of earning a win, yet a late New Hampshire shot deflected off the crossbar, allowing UNH junior Alli Rozelle to put the ball in the back of the net.
Although it was outshot 16-9, Binghamton believed that it had controlled the match. When the last-minute goal was surrendered, McClellan had confidence in her team entering the overtime periods.
‘We’re just going to have to play longer now,’ she said, recounting her thoughts immediately after the goal. ‘We dominated the game, so we felt pretty comfortable to have to play more. It just meant we were going to have to do this again. We nearly did, but that goal was really unfortunate. I think we deserved the win.’
Binghamton had an opportunity to win the game in overtime, when Holliday had a one-on-one with New Hampshire goalkeeper Erica Correa. Correa was able to charge the ball, blocking the shot and securing the tie for the Wildcats.
Despite allowing a late goal, freshman Carrie Martin gave the Bearcats another solid performance, making 10 saves through 110 minutes of play.
With the regular season set to conclude on Sunday, Binghamton will look to make a final playoff push, travelling to Stony Brook for a scheduled 1 p.m. match.
‘It’s a must-win,’ McClellan said of the match. ‘I don’t think I’m going to need to say much to them. I think all of the motivation will be there, and it’s up to the team to work it out and get it done on the field.’