Coming off a huge homecoming weekend win, the Binghamton University men’s soccer team extended its undefeated streak to seven games with a 2-1 overtime win over the University of Hartford Hawks Wednesday night at the Bearcats Sports Complex.
The Bearcats’ (4-4-3, 2-0-1 America East) golden goal came off the foot of senior forward Scott Zobre with just under nine minutes left to play in the second overtime period.
‘There was a big furnuffle in the box and the ball squirted out to me and I finished it,’ said an excited Zobre, who was not in the starting lineup due to an injury, but entered the game as a substitute late in the second half.
‘Great finish, great shot,’ said junior midfielder Ryan Walter, who was credited with the assist.
Walter picked up three points in the game, as he also drew first blood for Binghamton with a goal of his own at the 12-minute mark of the first half.
‘Tommy Moon played a great ball in, the backs opened up and we made them pay for that mistake,’ he said. ‘I’m just happy to get another goal ‘ I hadn’t scored all year and now I’ve got two in two games.’
The Bearcats took their 1-0 lead into the locker room at halftime and, according to head coach Paul Marco, ‘it was honestly like we changed kits with Hartford. I thought that they were great in the second half.’
Hartford (3-7-0, 1-2-0 AE) opened the second half with its first real scoring chance of the match just five minutes in as sophomore James Stamopoulos’ shot skidded past the outstretched arms of redshirt freshman goalie Chris Hayen but continued to roll wide left.
The Hawks, realizing their opportunity, continued to give it their all on offense as they dominated possession for much of the second half. With a little over 19 minutes to go in the match, Hartford junior Liam Williams crossed a ball to the middle of the Bearcats’ box and fellow junior Patrick Boucher headed it in for the equalizer.
‘It was like we just had quit playing and we were just going to try and defend a 1-0 lead, and they got a good goal,’ Marco said.
The tying goal seemed to wake up the Bearcat defense as they started to push the ball back into Hartford territory as time began to run down in the second half. They earned two corner kicks in the last three minutes of regulation, but could not capitalize on either as the game headed to overtime.
Binghamton had multiple opportunities in the first extra period, including two from sophomore Adam Whitehead, but none could be capitalized upon.
As the clock ticked past nine minutes to go in the second overtime period, Zobre got his chance and didn’t let it pass.
‘It feels amazing, this is a big win for us,’ he said after the game. ‘I’m just happy to be back playing.’
Zobre has been hampered by a hamstring injury and was not in the starting lineup against Hartford, nor was he during Binghamton’s homecoming game win over the University of Vermont Catamounts on Oct. 9.
‘He just wasn’t ready,’ said Marco who, after the Bearcats took the lead in the first half on Wednesday, had hoped to give the senior yet another full game off.
But the rest of the game didn’t go as planned.
‘We needed to use him. I thought all of the guys up front played their part and it was fortunate for Scotty at the end to get the goal,’ Marco said.
When asked about what his team could take from this game and build on as they continue in conference play, Marco said discussion was necessary regarding the way they came out of the locker room for the second half.
‘We didn’t come out with the intensity and commitment and the attitude that’s required for us to be playing later in November. And I think this team’s capable of playing later in November,’ he said.
With the win, the Bearcats extend their unbeaten streak to seven straight games, one shy of their eight-game run during the 2008 season. Marco said the increased confidence of young players and their ability to ‘do what they do well and do it more often’ has in part contributed to the team’s good fortune.
One of those players, goalie Chris Hayen, was named America East Rookie of the Week on Monday for his recent play. Marco has been extremely pleased with the team’s ability to allow young talent such as Hayen to develop for a year as a redshirt before being called upon.
With contributions from both rookies and veterans, the Bearcats hope to have a hand in continuing another streak when they visit the University at Albany on Saturday, as the Great Danes (4-8, 0-3 AE) are losers of six straight. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.