Following a season-opening win at Bucknell last Friday, the Binghamton men’s soccer team was taught a tough lesson in Monday night’s home opener: Slow starts can be fatal.
Facing Marist on Monday evening, BU (1-1) struggled on the offensive end. Putting up only two shots in the first half, the Bearcats were seldom able to create scoring opportunities early in the match.
“We started a lot of younger players, maybe there was a little nervousness,” BU head coach Paul Marco said. “I don’t think we started the match particularly well.”
Although the Red Foxes (2-0) didn’t manage to create many more scoring opportunities, with five shots in the half, they put it where it counts: Mario Vukadinovic scored the game’s lone goal in the 41st minute, courtesy of a bounce-in goal.
Entering the second half trailing by one, BU strove for the equalizer. Putting up seven shots in the second half, with three from senior forward Steve Celeste and one from graduate student and midfielder Tommy Moon in his long-anticipated return, the Bearcats looked refreshed and motivated.
“The guys woke up a little bit,” Marco said of his team’s turn-around. ”I think a couple guys got tired quickly because of the nervous energy.”
The newfound energy still wasn’t enough to help the Bearcats find the back of the net. With shots landing everywhere but under the goal and a hot goalie on the field in Marist’s Mark Rajovic, BU simply couldn’t score. The Red Foxes clung to their sole goal to blank Binghamton, 1-0.
“I give Marist a lot of credit,” Marco said. “They got a goal and then hung on.”
This first loss was especially painful tonight for the Bearcats. A crowd of 1,225 – many of them also student-athletes – came out to the Bearcats Sports Complex, showing support for their home team.
“We had a terrific crowd tonight,” Marco said. “We really appreciated their support and want to thank them for coming out tonight. We’ll be better the next home match.”
With eight more games to play before their America East opener against Hartford next month, the Bearcats have time to address their slow starts and lack of energy in the early moments. But facing an experienced team in Duquesne on Friday, Marco plans to enact some immediate changes.
“We’ve got a bit of work to do,” Marco said. “We’ll take a closer look at the way that we came out in the game.”
Next up for Binghamton is a trip to Pittsburgh, where the team is set to face Duquesne (2-1-1) for its first matchup at the Duquesne Invitational. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. on Friday at Rooney Field.