Entering the Binghamton men’s soccer team’s game against Columbia, freshman midfielder Ethan Homler had never scored a collegiate goal. He had started only one of the Bearcats’ games and logged more than 60 minutes only once. On Tuesday night against Columbia, however, Binghamton head coach Paul Marco gave the freshman the start, and Homler made it count, scoring twice to power the Bearcats (3-6-1, 0-2 America East) to a 2-1 nonconference victory over Columbia (3-4-2, 1-0 Ivy League).
Homler’s two goals came in quick succession. In the 29th minute, Homler intercepted a low clearance from the Columbia goalkeeper. He found himself in prime position to score his first career goal, giving BU an early lead.
“Coach was telling us before the game how the goalie had a high line, so when I had the opportunity, no doubt, I just lobbed it,” Homler said. “Knowing that we had conference play this weekend, we really wanted to win this game. Honestly, our mindset was ‘Get goals. We need goals.’”
Two minutes after his first career goal, Homler was able to secure a brace with a fortunate rebound off the crossbar. Beating the Columbia defenders to the ball, he fired the ball into the left corner, spurring a roar from the home fans in attendance.
“The only thought in my mind was to follow up and hopefully get there, and I did,” Homler said.
The 2-0 lead didn’t last for long, however, as Columbia sophomore midfielder Sebastian Gunbeyi scored to cut the Lions’ deficit to one goal a minute later. Columbia seemed to come alive in the second half, forcing BU to hold onto their lead for 60 more minutes.
“[The Lions] were very well organized … Quiet at first and then all of a sudden they’re in behind us,” Marco said. “Part of our game plan was to try and have higher starting positions to deal with their players in front of us. It didn’t feel like we did a great job of moving the ball and changing the point of attack — I thought we could’ve done that a little bit more.”
Prior to this game, the Bearcats had never defeated the Lions, falling in all five previous matchups.
Binghamton withstood several shots on goal by Columbia in the final 10 minutes, but was able to hang on and work the clock down to earn its third win of the season. With their next two games coming against conference opponents, the Bearcats will look to carry their momentum from the midweek nonconference matchup.
“When we get the lead, we have to protect it with everything we’ve got,” said junior midfielder Noah Luescher. “We can still go really far even though the record isn’t looking really great right now.”
Currently tied for last place in the conference, the Bearcats have an opportunity to improve their standing with games against Vermont and Stony Brook the next two weekends.
“I think we have to stop being complacent,” Luescher said. “We haven’t achieved anything yet. We have to work harder to be ready for Saturday.”
The Bearcats will look to win back-to-back games for the first time this season against the Vermont Catamounts this Saturday, Oct. 12. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. from the Archie Post Athletic Complex in Burlington, Vermont.