In the 94th minute of the Binghamton men’s soccer team’s season opener against Drexel, redshirt freshman midfielder Parker McKnight and junior midfielder Noah Luescher huddled around the ball, preparing for a free kick just outside of the 18-yard box off of a foul from Drexel sophomore defender Bennett Detweiler.
“I was setting up the ball, and Parker McKnight comes up to me and says, ‘He didn’t ask for 10 — just shoot it,’” Luescher said.
Drexel sophomore goalkeeper Stephen Kopsachilis was still setting up when Luescher took the shot, and the sudden strike proved to be fatal for the Dragons, as Luescher put the ball into the back right corner of the net, giving the Bearcats a thrilling 2-1 overtime victory to start the season.
“I was very happy the way Noah took the last goal,” said BU head coach Paul Marco. “He catches the goalkeeper setting the wall and scores the goal on an open net, so I’m very thrilled with his awareness.”
The game wasn’t smooth sailing all the way through for the Bearcats (1-1). With a scoreless first half, both teams knew that they needed to make big moves. Twenty-eight seconds into the second half, the Dragons (0-2) were awarded a corner kick, and Drexel sophomore forward Chris Donovan capitalized on the cross, netting the first goal of the game and putting the Dragons up 1-0.
“I thought that we were very good in the first half,” Marco said. “We created a lot of chances — we didn’t concede many. And then to start the second half off the way we did, just very disappointed in the goal we gave up.”
Luescher, the co-captain and last year’s team leader in points, did not start in the season opener, as he is recovering from an injury. He saw just 12 minutes of play in the first half and was put back into the game in the 66th minute. Ten minutes after being put back in, Drexel junior midfielder Adam Nork was given a yellow card, giving the Bearcats a free kick opportunity.
Up until this point, McKnight had been taking the free kicks for Binghamton, but Luescher took the shot that time around and leveled the game at 1-1.
While McKnight didn’t have any luck with his free kicks in his first collegiate game, he was the only player to score in the Bearcats’ second game of the season against Syracuse. Even with McKnight’s goal, Binghamton was unable to withstand the Syracuse Orange’s offense, as they fell to the Orange 3-1 on Monday night. Although Syracuse (1-1) came out of the match triumphant, Binghamton was able to contend with the talented Orange squad, which ranked 23rd in Division 1 in rating percentage index (RPI) last year.
“[Syracuse] is an athletic team, and they’re returning a lot of players as well making them a tough team to match up against,” Marco said.
After McKnight’s goal in the 18th minute, the Orange were able to gain momentum and never looked back with their first goal of the evening. Off a corner kick from the Bearcats, the Orange were able to secure possession, and a mere 20 seconds after the corner kick from Binghamton, Syracuse senior forward Massimo Ferrin positioned himself on the left side of the box for an assist from sophomore midfielder Ryan Raposo.
“Their first goal was heartbreaking and got our team down as they scored right off our corner kick,” Marco said. “If they hadn’t scored that first one, they may not have the scored the second.”
Once the Orange scored their first goal, they were able to carry the momentum throughout the game as their second and third came spaced throughout the match. Syracuse was able to score their second 60 minutes into the match, as Raposo secured the ball for a goal after it ricocheted off several Binghamton players. The Orange’s third goal at 70 minutes into the contest was Raposo’s second goal of the night, as he was assisted by Ferrin and junior midfielder Simon Triantafillou.
“Raposo is a great player — we talked about him in the pregame as well as the scouting report,” Marco said. “He’s probably one of the best players we’ll see all year. He’s great in everything other than size: He’s athletic, fast, finding time and space for his shots for himself and his teammates as well.”
Freshman goalkeeper Mats Roorda was able to slow the Orange’s scoring, as he saved nine of 12 shots on goal for the evening. The Binghamton’s defenders assisted Roorda in slowing the Syracuse offense.
“Mats and our defenders were outstanding, but their offense was really good today,” Marco said. “At some points, it was disappointing to see us not playing our roles on defense and making it hard for ourselves and easy for them.”
The Bearcats play again on this Friday, Sept. 6 against the Canisius Golden Griffins as they look to continue their solid play and bounce back from Monday’s loss. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. from the Bearcats Sports Complex in Vestal, New York.