Entering the week tied atop the America East (AE) standings, the Binghamton women’s soccer team took the field against its two toughest competitors of the season so far. The Bearcats (8-3-2, 2-1-1 AE) earned just one point across the two matchups, drawing against Albany on Thursday night and falling to Stony Brook on Sunday.
“What we told them is, this has gotta be a point that we’ve gotta look at ourselves, in terms of what it is that we want,” said Binghamton head coach Neel Bhattacharjee. “This is the time of year where teams typically can separate themselves in one way or the other, and games like this really help you in terms of seeding or just getting to the postseason.”
On Thursday, Binghamton traveled to Albany to face the defending AE champions. The Bearcats and the Great Danes (5-3-3, 2-0-1 AE) played to a scoreless draw. Despite Albany leading in many of the statistical categories, the teams played a relatively evenly matched game.
“We felt like, in particular that case, we dropped two points,” Bhattacharjee said. “We certainly had opportunities to win the game. But that one where you’re playing away, you can somewhat live with a point on the road, but you definitely don’t want to be dropping points at home, with this being our first loss.”
In both matchups, a normally potent Binghamton offense was held scoreless. BU was outshot 21-12 by Albany and 8-2 by Stony Brook. Both shots against Stony Brook were free kicks that went on goal.
“We’re disappointed with not scoring against Albany, we’re disappointed with not scoring against Stony Brook,” Bhattacharjee said. “For us to have only two shots and zero corners [against Stony Brook], that’s not like us. We’ve certainly got a number of really good attacking personalities on this team. We’ve gotta work on just getting more numbers around the ball, getting numbers higher into the attack.”
Against the Seawolves (9-4-0, 3-0-0 AE) on Sunday, a slow start plagued the Bearcats. Stony Brook outplayed the Bearcats throughout the entire matchup, appearing faster and a step ahead of BU’s attack.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t have a good start, and really that was one of our poorest halves, that first half,” Bhattacharjee said. “We can’t play against a good quality opponent and not have the defensive effort. For whatever reason, it started at the very beginning of the game. We deserved to go down 1-0 10 minutes into the match, and unfortunately, we didn’t really roll our way out of it.”
Binghamton played more competitively in the second half, with a few scoring chances, but were unable to get on the scoreboard. A Stony Brook goal in the 70th minute by junior forward Alyssa Francese secured a 2-0 win for the Seawolves.
“We had a better competitive mindset in the second half in terms of stuff we talked about at halftime, but we still lacked quality,” Bhattacharjee said. “We can’t expect to just give away 45 minutes and have an opportunity to get a result in the end.”
In both matchups, Binghamton found itself in unenviable positions in which its net was wide open with the goalkeeper forced out of position. In both cases, senior defender Lauren Spinnato was in position to make a save, and was instrumental in Binghamton securing a result on Thursday and keeping the game closer on Sunday.
“Hopefully we don’t put ourselves in those particular scenarios and situations, but [Spinnato] can certainly help us in terms of possession, she can certainly help us in terms of defending,” Bhattacharjee said. “When she needs to make a big play in the back, certainly she can do that … Again, hopefully we don’t have to ask that of her too much or too often.”
With four games completed and four remaining, the Bearcats are halfway through their conference season. With a week off to prepare for its next matchup, a road trip to Maine, BU has time to regroup in the stretch of its season. The Black Bears (4-5-1, 0-3-1 AE) are winless in conference play so far.
“We dropped three points today is how we’re looking at it, so we’ve gotta make sure that we come with better focus, better preparation, and that starts with this week getting prepped and ready for an away game against Maine,” Bhattacharjee said.
Kickoff against Maine is set for noon on Sunday, Oct. 13 from Mahaney Diamond in Orono, Maine.