After a strong performance against the University of New Hampshire Wildcats, the Binghamton women’s soccer team extended its unbeaten streak to five and remains undefeated in conference play. Behind a defensive shutout and unexpected individual offensive performances, the Bearcats (8-2-1, 2-0 America East) posted a 2-0 victory over the Wildcats (5-5, 1-1 AE).
“Honestly, it just feels good to get the win and get the three points,” said Binghamton head coach Neel Bhattacharjee. “It all came down to what we did this week and our preparation. I feel like our coaching staff did a really good job in terms of our prep and it led us to our result today.”
Playing just 16 minutes in her third appearance of the season, junior midfielder Sarah Dibble netted her first career goal and an assist to secure Binghamton’s victory. This victory keeps Binghamton atop the AE standings and marks the first time that the Bearcats have been able to earn a result against New Hampshire since 2013.
“Our team wasn’t quite as crisp and solid as we normally would be,” Bhattacharjee said. “We let up some poor turnovers in the midfield that forced us to transition back quickly and UNH was dangerous in those moments. Sarah Dibble was fantastic. She came on for 15 minutes and she had a great performance during that time.”
For the majority of the first half, the Bearcats had played evenly with the Wildcats, resulting in a scoreless scoreline going into the second half. However, the Bearcats were able to break out in the second half, scoring a pair of goals in the final 23 minutes of the matchup. In the 68th minute, Dibble, who entered game a mere two minutes prior, drove a through ball delivered by junior midfielder Dora Hayes up the middle of the field and secured Binghamton’s first goal of the game.
Just 13 minutes after this play, Binghamton’s breakout freshman midfielder Olivia McKnight swiftly evaded the UNH defense before crossing the ball into the middle of the box. Dibble was there to intercept the play and delivered a shot that bounced off of the left post. Freshman forward Maya Anand was in position to convert the missed opportunity into an insurance goal. Making her collegiate debut just two weeks ago, Anand has received substantial playing time off the bench in the last three games and was able to net her first career goal on Sunday.
With equally strong defensive efforts, led by sophomore goalkeeper Haylee Poltorak’s four saves, the Bearcats carried their 2-0 lead until the final whistle, giving Poltorak her fifth shutout of the season.
Binghamton’s success so far in the season sets them above their performance last season, with the team’s eight victories surpassing their win total of seven from last season. This year marks the first time in program history that the Bearcats have opened AE play with a 2-0 record.
Despite the early results in conference play, the Bearcats have arguably the toughest week of their regular season ahead. The team will face off against the defending conference champions Albany on the road this upcoming Thursday, followed by hosting Stony Brook on Sunday. The Great Danes (5-3-2, 2-0 AE) and the Seawolves (7-4-0, 1-0 AE) are the only other remaining unbeaten teams in conference play.
“There a couple of things that we definitely got exposed on today that I know we can be better,” Bhattacharjee said. “We are a good possession team, but today, we really allowed UNH’s pressure to really impact possession and that led to turnovers. We need to protect the center passer, play to our midfield and some things we need to be aware of when we are transitioning to defense. So there are a couple of things that we are gonna have to look at that we can certainly improve on.”
Kickoff against Albany is set for 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 3 at Bob Ford Field in Albany, New York.