With the Binghamton women’s soccer team trailing 1-0 early in its conference opener against Vermont, junior midfielder Dora Hayes lofted a 30-yard strike perfectly over the head of the Catamounts’ goalkeeper, scoring an equalizer for Binghamton and helping the Bearcats (7-2-1, 1-0 America East) secure a 3-2 win over the Catamounts (2-5-1, 0-1 AE) in their conference opener.
“I just went for it,” Hayes said. “I looked up and saw that I didn’t really have much pressure on me. I didn’t really feel like it. So I thought I’d go for it.”
After Vermont scored just six minutes into the game, Hayes’ goal launched a streak of three unanswered goals by the Bearcats.
“A beautiful strike from distance,” said BU head coach Neel Bhattacharjee. “We were feeling a little bit down in terms of giving up a too-easy corner kick goal, so it was nice to get that back, and then we got our spirits up to fight back in the game from there.”
Prior to Sunday afternoon’s contest, Vermont had won five straight matchups over Binghamton, holding the Bearcats scoreless in each of the last four of their matchups.
“We went down 1-0 early unfortunately, just some poor set up in terms of our corner kick,” Bhattacharjee said. “What I loved was the fight and battle we showed after that. We got caught up a little bit at times in terms of not being able to play through Vermont’s pressure, which we knew to expect. We just didn’t adjust to it too well in the first half.”
Eleven minutes after Hayes’ goal, junior forward Essie Bonney drilled a rebound into the left corner of the net to give Binghamton a 2-1 lead. Early in the second half, junior midfielder Ivana Pjetri was in position to tap in a cross from sophomore forward Stefania Piantadosi to give BU an insurance goal in the 49th minute.
Before the season, the team focused on developing a more diverse offensive attack, and it showed with three different goal-scorers in the its conference opener.
“I think it makes it difficult for teams to just hone in on one player, so when that happens it really opens up gaps and seams for us elsewhere,” Bhattacharjee said. “One thing we did want to do is just kinda spread the ball out — move it to more wider areas — and once we did that, the game really opened up.”
Bonney’s goal was her fifth of the season, and she now sits alone as the leading scorer in the conference. She, Hayes and freshman midfielder Olivia McKnight have anchored BU’s offense throughout the season.
With high temperatures throughout the game, both Binghamton and Vermont made several substitutions. Multiple players came off the bench and contributed to the Bearcats’ effort.
“We really needed to call on all of them,” Bhattacharjee said. “We needed to keep that energy going. We could see legs starting to tire out toward the end of the first half. We certainly knew that was going to be a factor coming into the second half.”
Among the substitutions was freshman forward Maya Anand. Anand made her collegiate debut last Wednesday against Cornell after being cleared to play following an injury suffered prior to her arrival in Binghamton. She played 43 minutes in the game, and Bhattacharjee believes she can become a major contributor to the team.
“She’s just going to grow more and more,” Bhattacharjee said. “She’s special on the ball, she’s got a great soccer IQ. She’s got some savviness in her game. One of the big things that I think separates a good player from a great player is deception, and she’s got deception in her game. The little fakes, the moves that she has, it’s higher-level stuff.”
In the 84th minute, the Catamounts were able to cut Binghamton’s lead to one after scoring their second goal of the game.
“That was disappointing,” Bhattacharjee said. “I thought we had good enough opportunities to get a fourth goal, but it didn’t quite work out that way, and credit to Vermont in terms of the defending. For that last goal, it’s something that was a little bit predictable … It was just too big a gap between our backs and our goalkeeper to cover it, so we have to be smarter than that.”
However, the Bearcats held Vermont defensively in the final six minutes of the game, securing a 3-2 victory to open conference play. With the win, Binghamton is now 5-0 on the season at the Bearcats Sports Complex.
“We worked really hard and we always want to defend our home turf, so being here and getting the win is really big for us,” Hayes said.
Binghamton’s conference season will continue with a road matchup against New Hampshire next Sunday. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. from Wildcat Stadium in Durham, New Hampshire.