With many of the 1,716 fans in attendance at the Bearcats Sports Complex still finding their seats, junior midfielder Ben Nicholson scored just 65 seconds into the game to provide all the offense the Binghamton men’s soccer team would need in its 3-0 homecoming victory over UMass Lowell.
“Very delighted that we could perform the way that we did tonight for [the fans] because they were outstanding,” head coach Paul Marco said. “I knew it was going to be a special night when I saw them in the parking lot prior to the game.”
But, sometimes such a big crowd can distract a team.
“After [Nicholson’s] terrific free kick, the guys kind of settled in a little bit because it happened so early,” Marco said.
Senior forward Marts Reid-Warden gave the Bearcats (3-7-2, 1-1 America East) some extra cushion over the River Hawks (2-11-0, 0-2 AE) in the 68th minute when he took a cross from redshirt freshman forward Logan Roberts and sent it into the back of the net.
Roberts put the game on ice with a goal of his own 20 minutes later, converting on a cross from freshman forward Alex Varkatzas.
After the three-point performance, Roberts was named the America East Men’s Soccer Rookie of the Week for Oct. 14.
“I thought today that we played both ends of the field quite well,” Marco said. “The two midfielders — [freshmen] Mike Kubik and Charlie Novoth — both terrific tonight. I thought [sophomore back] Bret Celeste stepped in in place of [junior back] Jamie Forbes and did very well. And I give a lot of credit to [Nicholson] and our front three and Marts … what a terrific finish Marts’ goal was.”
While both teams attempted 10 shots and put six shots on goal, the Bearcats made theirs count. The three-goal outburst was Binghamton’s highest offensive output of the season.
While the Bearcats have created plenty of opportunities in front of the net this season, capitalizing has been one of their biggest struggles. According to Nicholson, a night like tonight was a long time coming.
“It’s about time, really,” Nicholson said. “To turn our opportunities into goals and get the product we’ve been putting into training is great.”
In goal, sophomore keeper Stefano Frantellizzi recorded six saves to notch his fourth solo shutout of the season.
All three BU victories this season have come via the shutout.
The crowd marked Binghamton’s largest home audience of 2013. After the victory, the Bearcats walked across the field to the stands to give their fans a round of applause.
“They’re amazing,” Nicholson said. “They’ve been fantastic all season. Tonight they were superb, and it really lifts us and makes us play that bit harder.”
Binghamton will look to build on its momentum Wednesday against Stony Brook. The Seawolves (5-6-0, 1-1-0 AE) are coming off back-to-back road losses to West Virginia and conference foe New Hampshire.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium in Brookhaven, N.Y.