UMBC carried a No. 7 ranking into the Bearcats Sports Complex tonight. But with a stout defensive effort the Binghamton men’s soccer team tied the Retrievers (12-1-2, 3-0-2 America East), 0-0, in double overtime to all but guarantee a drop in its foe’s standing in the NSCAA Coaches Poll.
Saturday night marked the fifth game BU has played against a top-10 opponent, but this match was the first in which the Bearcats came away with at least one point. The Bearcats (3-8-5, 1-1-3) put on a stellar display in the process, with sophomore keeper Stefano Frantellizzi and the BU defense flushing out the energetic Retrievers.
“I thought that our entire back four was outstanding tonight,” BU head coach Paul Marco said. “We played against an unbelievable opponent. Everyone could see how fast they were and clever with the ball. I think that there’s two or three attacking players on the UMBC team that are probably top in the country. Petey [Caringi] … he’s unbelievable. I really enjoy watching him play.”
The Retrievers’ offense displayed its vigor, outshooting the Bearcats, 16-6, with five on goal. But even when they did manage to slip past BU’s backline, which, evident by its two yellow cards, did not allow that to happen without a fight, they couldn’t find their way past Frantellizzi.
“I thought Stefano was unbelievable tonight,” Marco said. “He’s terrific at shot stopping. Tonight he was clean with the ball. The ones that he should catch cleanly, he did.
Frantellizzi met the challenge with nothing short of confidence.
“Tonight was a lot of fun. I enjoy the pressure of having to play a top team like UMBC,” he said. “I think [Saturday night] we showed that we can compete with the top dogs in the conference.”
The sophomore standout certainly showed he could compete. En route to his sixth shutout of the season, he not only jumped up for an unbelievable save off of a corner kick, but he also blocked two shots in a span of seven seconds in the second overtime period.
UMBC sophomore midfielder Malcolm Harris and senior line mate Travis Dennis swooped in the box in the 97th minute. Harris kicked to the right corner first, but Frantellizzi dove for a save. The ball bounced back out and Dennis found it, vying again for a Retriever goal, but Frantellizzi, still grounded, blocked that one as well, before his defense flushed it from the box.
“I really focused on keeping my eye on the ball and tried to pay attention to players’ tendencies throughout the match,” Frantellizzi said. “My focus and concentration were there [Saturday night] and I’m happy with the result.”
Binghamton’s offense didn’t put much of an imprint on UMBC’s goal—senior keeper Phil Saunders only made two saves on the night, and took on more of a spectator position during the second half, during which the Bearcats made no shots.
“We got tired early in the game because we were defending,” Marco said. “I did like us on the counter–I thought we were quite good. I thought we could have been a little more useful with the ball at times, possession-wise, but UMBC is an unbelievable team.”
The Bearcats are set to head back into action against New Hampshire on Nov. 2. The contest will be their penultimate of the regular season, which they will wrap up at home against Albany on Nov. 6.
Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at Bremner Field in Durham, N.H.