In its final nonconference matchup of the season, the Binghamton women’s soccer team played to its first draw of the season. Facing off against upstate New York rival Cornell, the Bearcats (6-2-1) finished at a deadlock with the Big Red (4-1-1).
“I thought we did some good things throughout, we just didn’t do it consistently over the course of the 110 minutes,” said Binghamton head coach Neel Bhattacharjee. “We had a very poor start, which is very uncharacteristic for us.”
The first few minutes of the game were dominated by the Big Red. In the third minute of the game, a ball-handling miscue by sophomore goalkeeper Haylee Poltorak allowed Cornell to take an early 1-0 lead in the match.
“One thing we look for in our goalkeepers is mentality,” Bhattacharjee said. “If you do make a mistake, and you let go and have a short memory … the thing we look for is the response at that point. She did have to make a pretty good save later on … and that’s when we knew she’s still in. We got her.”
Following the goal, the Bearcats regrouped and began to settle down in the game. Shortly thereafter, in the 16th minute, junior defender Erin Theiller tapped in her second career goal off a feed from freshman midfielder Olivia McKnight and sophomore forward Stefania Piantadosi. Theiller, a fixture on Binghamton’s back line, rarely finds herself in scoring position.
“She’s someone that we felt like we might be able to get three to five goals … and it would be primarily from set piece situations,” Bhattacharjee said. “She’s not gonna be in and around the box as a center back, certainly, but when we bring her up on a set play, set piece scenario, she’ll be able to do that for us.”
The remainder of the game was deadlocked. The teams played fairly even, with both gaining scoring opportunities throughout regulation, but neither being able to score a goal for the duration of the match.
“When we played our style of soccer, we did really well,” Bhattacharjee said. “We were able to break down our opponent with good ball movement and good interchanging. I think the problems that we created for ourselves ended up being some of Cornell’s best chances.”
Junior forward Essie Bonney, currently tied as Binghamton’s leading scorer on the season, played just 16 minutes in the game; however, Bhattacharjee seemed confident that she will be able to play more minutes in the team’s conference opener next Sunday.
Bhattacharjee also discussed the first collegiate appearance for freshman forward Maya Anand in Wednesday’s game. Anand played 60 minutes in her debut after being limited in past games because of an injury she suffered prior to joining the team.
With its nonconference season now complete, the Bearcats have the highest win percentage among its America East (AE) rivals up to this point. With six nonconference wins, this year’s team equaled its total from 2017, the year in which Binghamton won the co-regular season conference title. Wednesday’s game marked the Bearcats’ final tune-up before facing off against Vermont in its AE opener this Sunday.
“At this point it’s been nine games in the season,” Bhattacharjee said. “We’ve got a pretty good idea in terms of locations and our personnel on our roster. Now, it’s a matter of making sure that we’ve got a strong game plan and we have people that understand their roles and executing them as we get into conference play.”
The Catamounts (2-4-1) have been a challenging opponent for the Bearcats as of late. In the three seasons under Bhattacharjee’s leadership, BU has been defeated four times by the Catamounts and has failed to score a goal against them.
“We’re not really going to bring that up or discuss it,” Bhattacharjee said. “You can’t control results against Vermont from three years ago or even last year. It’s a different team, different roster for both sides. In the past, we’ve actually had really good performances against Vermont and just, for whatever reason, we weren’t able to get the win.”
Kickoff against the Catamounts is set for 1 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 22 from the Bearcats Sports Complex in Vestal, New York.