Facing some of the toughest competition of its nonconference schedule, the Binghamton women’s soccer team split a pair of games in the nation’s capital this weekend. The Bearcats (4-2) defeated American University 3-1 on Friday and were defeated 2-0 Sunday afternoon by George Mason.
Early on in Friday’s matchup, junior forward Essie Bonney knocked in a header off a cross from sophomore forward Stefania Piantadosi, scoring her third goal in two games and giving the Bearcats an early 1-0 lead over the Eagles (3-3).
“Essie’s timing was very good — it ended up being a fairly simple finish at the end, but the timing of the service was really what made that all work,” said BU head coach Neel Bhattacharjee. “What I loved is that we really put our foot on the pedal right from the start. That goal was probably scored seven minutes, eight minutes into the game, we really were taking it to American in terms of our possession and speed of play … that really set the tone for the rest of the half.”
However, just a minute before halftime, American was able to score an equalizer and send the teams to the locker room tied at one.
“You never want to give up a goal five minutes into a half or five minutes at the end of a half,” Bhattacharjee said. “There were three or four breakdowns that led to that goal and we need to be smart in terms of how we close out a half. At halftime, our players were upset a little bit, but they knew they could come back and make a statement. I love how they responded at the start of the second half.”
In the second half, the player who has become Binghamton’s top scorer stepped up. Freshman midfielder Olivia McKnight scored in the 53rd minute to give Binghamton the lead and scored an insurance goal 30 minutes later, leading BU to a 3-1 lead and its third straight victory.
“She’s got a great mentality,” Bhattacharjee said. “Even as a freshman, I can say she’s one of the most competitive people that we have. She loves taking people on and she’s really dangerous when she does that.”
But on Sunday, Binghamton saw its winning streak ended by George Mason. The Patriots (1-3-1) outshot the Bearcats 15-5 in the game, but the score remained tied at zero at halftime. In the first half, Piantadosi was able to score, but offsides was called and the goal was taken off of the board.
In the second half, George Mason was able to get on the board with two goals, the first coming in the 47th minute and the other nine minutes later. Despite both of the Patriots’ goals being scored in the early portion of the half, Bhattacharjee said she was satisfied with the team’s effort during that period of the game.
“I was really pleased with how we played the opening 20, 25 minutes of that half,” Bhattacharjee said. “We had made some good adjustments, but we gave up a really early goal in the second half. We had some really dangerous quality scoring chances, [but] unfortunately, we weren’t as clinical as we needed to be on those few chances.”
Throughout the road trip, Binghamton was able to test itself against two strong opponents, which Bhattacharjee believes will help the team better prepare itself for conference play in a few weeks.
“In some regards, to me, today had the feel of a high-level America East type of game,” Bhattacharjee said. “If we’re going to play one of the top-two, top-three teams in the America East, we feel that certainly we can play at that level. We’ve gotta do that for the full 90 minutes, but we’ve certainly proved to ourselves that we can do that, and we can do that on the road.”
Kickoff in Binghamton’s next matchup against Wagner is set for 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 12 from the Bearcats Sports Complex in Vestal, New York.