The Binghamton University women’s soccer team controlled the possession battle and the tempo for most of Sunday’s game, but it wasn’t enough to tame the University of Maine, who kept the Bearcats from their first conference win of the season, topping them, 3-1. The loss extends the Bearcats’ winless streak to six games and drops them below .500 for the first time this season.
While the scoreboard tells a different story, the Bearcats (6-7-1, 0-4-1 America East) outplayed the Black Bears (6-5-2, 2-2-1 AE) squad for the entire first half and most of the second, controlling the midfield play with lockdown defense and setting up breakaway opportunities for the offense. But Maine found a way to sneak goals past the Binghamton goalkeepers when opportunities presented themselves.
“I think we dominated [in] possession, creating our chances, and I think we were the better team,” Binghamton head coach Sarah McClellan said. “That’s why it is tough, because the score really should be the other way around.”
Binghamton opened scoring before the Black Bears had a chance to sit down, as a feed from senior forward and leading scorer Sarah Furminger soared from outside the left portion of the penalty area to find senior forward Jamie Holliday. Holliday sent a right-footed shot over the outstretched hands of the Maine goalkeeper into the top right corner of the net, just 1:20 into the match.
In the ninth minute, Maine goalkeeper Lauren Swant saved a point blank shot from Furminger, who was all alone on a breakaway, to keep the Black Bears’ deficit at one. Two minutes later, Binghamton would have yet another breakaway chance, but the shot off the foot of Holliday sailed wide right.
The missed chances would come back to haunt Binghamton, as Maine made their push later in the half. In the 27th minute, Maine’s leading goal scorer, junior Nikki Misener, poked a ball to freshman Eve L’Abbe from a tough angle, and L’Abbe split two defenders and sent a ball past BU junior goalkeeper Carrie Martin to the right corner for Maine’s first goal.
The momentum seemed to carry over to the second half for Maine and its quick strike offense, as only three minutes after leaving the locker room, freshman Camille Varin-Tremblay sent a ball from 12 yards that hit off the top right crossbar and into the net.
Ten minutes later, after a Binghamton handball, a free kick was given a yard outside the penalty area. Maine freshman Charlene Achille took the kick, which curved around the wall of Binghamton defenders and ricocheted off the crossbar. Misener, who won the mad scramble for the ball, launched a shot into the left corner of the net past BU’s second-half goalkeeper, junior Stephanie Speirs.
Binghamton’s only remaining good chance came in the 83rd minute when Furminger fed freshman midfielder Rebecca Raber a ball from the right, inside the penalty area. But Raber’s shot went straight towards the Maine goalkeeper, who handled it easily.
“I think the energy needed to be a little bit sharper,” McClellan said of the team’s second half. “[Maine] didn’t create their goals, so it’s not like we shut down or anything. The chances [Maine] had they finished, and we did not finish ours.”
The result puts Binghamton in a tough spot going forward in the playoff picture. With only three games remaining on their conference schedule, the Bearcats sit in last place in the America East.
“[The loss] makes all three of the next games critical, so we need to get a result in all three,” McClellan said. “I think our team is capable of doing that. I think that they are capable of beating any team, but we need it to come together from start to finish and put teams away when we are capable of putting them away.”
Binghamton’s next game is scheduled to come at home against reigning conference champs Boston University, who have yet to lose in conference play this year. The team will then face University of Maryland, Baltimore County and University of Vermont on the road to close out regular season place.
“It’s a challenge to get a result in all three games, but I don’t think our team’s going to be backing down,” McClellan said.
The Boston game is set to be played at 1 p.m. on Sunday at the Bearcats Sports Complex.