Traveling to New Jersey to play an undefeated Rutgers team, the Binghamton men’s soccer team showed off its resilience, but fell 3-2 in a high-scoring matchup. The Scarlet Knights (4-0) and the Bearcats (1-3) scored all five goals of the contest in the first half, with three coming in an 11-minute span.
“I thought we were very good tonight,” said BU head coach Paul Marco after the game. “Tonight was our best performance that we’ve had all year. We grew in the match, and we got better from the first whistle to the last whistle. The outcome was disappointing, but we’re moving in the right direction quickly.”
The first goal was scored less than two minutes into play by Rutgers’ junior defender Vincent Borden after he bounced the ball into the Bearcats’ net. Junior midfielder Noah Luescher answered the goal with one of his own in the 23rd minute to continue his strong start to the season, scoring his third goal in BU’s first four games.
“Noah was terrific on the first goal for us,” Marco said. “He’s a great teammate, one of our captains — certainly just shown great leadership.”
In the 30th minute, freshman midfielder Jackson Temple took the lead for the Scarlet Knights when he netted a goal off of a pass from freshman defender Chris Tiao. Shortly following, freshman forward Dan Mansfield fired the ball into the corner of the net to score the Bearcats’ second goal, and his first collegiate goal, off of a feed from freshman forward Matthew Cozetti. This equalized the match at 2-2 before the Scarlet Knights scored another at the end of the first half, giving the team a 3-2 lead at halftime that held for the remainder of the match.
Mansfield and Cozetti were just two of the five freshmen who started the game, and six of the Bearcats’ nine shots on goal came from freshmen — three from freshman defender Michael Bush. With such a large freshman presence, Marco sees this as an opportunity for the team to grow.
“We’re playing five to seven freshmen at one time,” Marco said. “We’re playing a deeper roster right now, have a few guys banged up and a lot of new faces. Still trying to figure things out … The guys are embracing the moment and the experience, and they’re working their hardest.”
Despite being outshot by Rutgers, the Bearcats managed to put more shots on goal than their opponents by a tally of 9-7. Rutgers capitalized on their set pieces, scoring their first goal in the second minute via corner kick. For the go-ahead goal, Rutgers took advantage of another BU foul to bring the score to the final 3-2.
“We had moments to put the ball out of bounds, but we didn’t,” Marco said. “That gave them an opportunity. I think the biggest area is to keep pushing the group to manage moments in the game. We don’t really do too well right now after we score a goal.”
Prior to Tuesday night, the Bearcats and Scarlet Knights never played each other before. With the Big Ten team coming out on top, the Bearcats have an opportunity to improve throughout the rest of their nonconference slate.
“[We’re] disappointed driving home right now with a loss, but have something to build on for next week,” Marco said.
Binghamton’s next game is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 14 against Iona. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. from Mazzella Field in New Rochelle, New York.