After outshooting their opponent 21-5 and retaining control of the ball throughout much of Sunday’s match, the Binghamton women’s soccer team shut out the Manhattan Jaspers 2-0 over the weekend. Of the 15 shots that were on target for the Bearcats (3-1), both goals came from one player: junior forward Essie Bonney.
Her first goal came off a corner kick in the 25th minute when junior defender Erin Theiller headed the corner to Bonney, who then volleyed the ball over the goalkeeper’s head into the goal’s top right corner.
“We’ve done a good job at getting corners but haven’t finished any yet,” said BU head coach Neel Bhattacharjee. “So it was good for us to get that first goal coming off a corner.”
Bonney’s second goal was the more important of the two and all but secured Binghamton’s victory over the Jaspers (0-4). The team spent most of the game in Manhattan’s defensive half and took 12 shots in the game’s final 45 minutes. However, Binghamton struggled to push through and score a second goal.
BU’s break came in the 84th minute when freshman midfielder Olivia McKnight fought off defenders and placed a ball near the penalty marker. Bonney picked it up and rocketed the pass into the goal’s lower left corner from 12 yards out. After countless failed scoring opportunities, the Bearcats broke through and secured the match-clinching goal.
“We could have potentially gotten that second goal a little bit earlier and breathe easier, but credit to Manhattan for not making it easy on us,” Bhattacharjee said.
Bhattacharjee credited Bonney’s “great mentality” and “dangerous” ability in one-versus-one situations and for tiring out the Jaspers’ defense as the game went along.
Bhattacharjee also noted that the team’s offense as a whole was strong, which she said stemmed from adjustments made in practices.
The coach said he felt his team had good control of the match with its “acceleration, speed [and] pace,” which made it easier for the team to play its forwards. Bonney credited the success to a faster tempo and playing “one, two,” which created more touches for the forwards.
“We expected a lot from [freshman] Olivia Meier in the midfield,” Bhattacharjee said. “[Junior midfielder] Dora Hayes gave us a lot of quality moments. Olivia McKnight had some moments on the dribble. Overall, I thought it was a good, strong collective team effort.”
While Bonney’s dynamic play will garner most of the attention from the match, Binghamton’s defense was certainly a quiet hero on Sunday. The unit secured the team’s second consecutive shutout, after beating St. Francis Brooklyn 2-0 last Friday afternoon. According to Bhattacharjee, the Bearcats placed an emphasis on Manhattan’s junior forward Arianna Montefusco when preparing for the match. In 2017, Montefusco was selected to the All-MAAC Second Team and MAAC All-Tournament Team. She is Manhattan’s most potent scorer.
“We wanted to make sure our pressure was good all over the field, so if we could pressure them up a little higher, that would limit their opportunity to play in our defensive half,” Bhattacharjee said. “That takes a good amount of work from forwards and midfielders, and we expect them to be good defenders too.”
Manhattan’s lack of scoring opportunities is evident by its five-total shots, less than a quarter of Binghamton’s total. Two of them made it on goal, and both were saved by sophomore goalkeeper Haylee Poltorak. Sunday’s game marked Poltorak’s third shutout in the season’s first four games.
Next up for the Bearcats is a challenging road trip to the nation’s capital. Prior to playing George Mason on Sunday, BU will face off against American University on Friday, Sept. 6. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. from Reeves Field in Washington, D.C.