Unable to rekindle its offensive vigor since winning its home opener against Buffalo, the Binghamton men’s soccer team fell, 1-0, to St. Bonaventure in front of 1,400 fans at the Bearcats Sports Complex on Friday night.
The Bearcats got a head start on the game’s scanty scoring opportunities in the eighth minute. Junior midfielder Ben Nicholson nearly converted the game’s first goal when his shot bounced off the hands of the Bonnie goalie, but St. Bonaventure (6-3) recovered the ball just before the goal line and struck only minutes later.
In the 38th minute, SBU senior midfielder/forward Emmett O’Connor blew past the Binghamton defenders down the left side of the turf and netted his fourth goal of the season.
After the first half, the teams were neck and neck with two shots apiece. Neither had found a groove, and it appeared that the Bonnies would pull away with a 1-0 victory without a sound from the Bearcats.
“I can’t be too harsh on the guys, I mean … the last four matches have been very tight games and we’re just falling short on the side of getting a win,” BU head coach Paul Marco said. “But overall, I think the team is still moving in the right direction — we’re improving at training, improving in the match.”
On the offensive side of the ball, the Bearcats couldn’t take advantage of their opportunities. Most of their attempts on goal either took too long to set up, allowing St. Bonaventure to get in correct position and play tighter defense, or were booted quickly from far out.
“I thought that we struggled a bit on the final pass,” Marco said. “I thought that our strikers positioned themselves more to possess the ball than to score a goal.”
However, in the final 30 minutes, sparked by senior back Robbie Hughes, BU went into attack mode and tried to net the equalizer.
“[Robbie’s] trying to do anything he can to help us win,” Marco said. “I think that that’s contagious — we need more of that from more players than him. I’d like to see a little bit more of that tenacity from our strikers.”
The Bearcats took seven shots in the final third of the game — compared to St. Bonaventure’s one — but failed to find the back of the net on any of them. Nicholson and redshirt freshman forward Logan Roberts each notched two shots in the match, but both walked away empty-handed.
“Those are two guys we need goals from. I think they’re quite capable of scoring a few goals each,” Marco said. “I expect them to [do better in front of the goal], I mean, I watch them every day in training and they bang in goals.”
Five other Bearcats had one shot each.
Binghamton’s offense will look to find its footing against a Syracuse team that averages 1.89 goals per game. The match, the Bearcats’ final tilt before opening America East play against Vermont, will be produced by Time Warner Sports and aired on ESPN3.
The teams have split the all-time series, 2-2.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. tonight at the SU Soccer Stadium in Syracuse, N.Y.