Men’s soccer heads to Albany in search of second America East win

Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.

Brad Blansky/Contributing Photographer Senior back Austin Hughes and the Bearcats will look to take down Albany and improve to 2-0 in conference play over the weekend.

The Binghamton University men’s soccer team’s record may not look pretty, but there is a lot the Bearcats (5-5, 1-0 America East) can be optimistic about.

Following a 5-0 blowout against nationally ranked Cornell University (9-0), Binghamton has rallied for two consecutive wins, the latest of which came in dramatic fashion. Senior forward Jake Keegan continued his torrid season as he converted on a game-winning goal in overtime to down University of New Hampshire last weekend. It was his ninth goal of the season and helped him earn America East Player of the Week honors.

BU heads into Saturday’s match against the University at Albany with momentum, looking to finish on top against a conference rival.

“We’re a dangerous team going forward,” Binghamton head coach Paul Marco said. “They’re going to have to defend our front players and make sure they take care of the ball. We’re going to have to do the same as they have some tall, athletic players … Things that we’ve been saying to our guys in preseason, I think they’re finally seeing the importance and value in some of those pieces.”

The two teams collide every year in conference play, and over the past two years neither team could come away with a decisive advantage, tying in both of the matches.

The Bearcats are 7-3-3 against the Great Danes (2-8, 0-1 AE) since entering the America East Conference in 2001.

“The game itself has a long-standing rivalry,” Marco said. “This year’s [Albany] team has been struggling to get results that they were getting last year … But when I watched them, they looked a little better than they were last year. So I think the game itself will be a competitive game.”

Albany started out the season winning two out of its first three games, but the Great Danes enter the match with a seven-game losing streak. Albany has been outscored 16-2 during the skid.

Binghamton may be able to take advantage of a struggling opponent, as the Bearcats appear to have hit their stride.

The leaders of the Binghamton squad seem to be identifying themselves, and the team is responding around them.

“‘Who do you want to be?’ That’s what I basically asked them after the Cornell game,” Marco said. “‘Who do you want to be this year? Is this who you want to be defined as?’ And I think the leaders of the team stepped forward.”

Marco named seniors Trey Jasenski, Austin Hughes and Chris Hayen and juniors Tommy Klim, Kevin Bunce and Tommy Moon as vocal leaders in the locker room.

The challenge the Bearcats face is consistency. A .500 overall record leaves a lot of room for improvement and keeping the energy level up can help the team in the upcoming conference game.

Winning this game would give BU its largest win-streak of the season at three games.

“I do think we’re similar [to Albany] in the way that we play and the system that we play,” Marco said. “Both coaches that coach the game are similar … I’m expecting a very good game.”

Binghamton is set to face off against the Great Danes at 7 p.m. on Saturday at the Plumeri Sports Complex.