Despite outshooting its opponent 10-2, the Binghamton women’s soccer team suffered a crushing home loss to the Hartford Hawks on Thursday afternoon. The Bearcats (8-5-2, 2-3-1 America East) fell to Hartford (7-6-1, 4-2-0 AE) in a 1-0 defeat, marking Binghamton’s fourth loss in a row after starting conference play 2-0.
“It was one of those unfortunate days that can sometimes happen in soccer,” said Binghamton head coach Neel Bhattacharjee. “Unfortunately, it was just one of those days where we played extremely well. I was proud of our effort, the quality of our passes and how we were able to place ourselves in dangerous positions, but it was just one of those days where we couldn’t find the back of the net.”
Early into the match, the Bearcats showed glimmers of excellence. Junior midfielder Dora Hayes delivered a 12-yard shot in the first three minutes of play, but Hartford’s junior goalkeeper Maia Perez kept the scoreline even at zero with a save.
In the 34th minute, however, the Hawks capitalized on their single shot attempt of the half. After receiving possession outside of the 18-yard box, Hartford’s senior midfielder Sierra Stone dribbled closer to the box before launching a 20-yard strike toward the top right corner of the net, giving Hartford the 1-0 lead it would hold onto for the remainder of the game.
“Hartford really had one good opportunity and Sierra Stone, who is probably one of the best players in the league, did a really good job of hitting her shot to the upper corner, whereas I felt like we had four probably higher-finishing opportunities and for whatever the reason we couldn’t put it away,” Bhattacharjee said. “This will be something that we continue to address in terms of just taking care of our chances and being critical when we have those higher-percentage opportunities.”
In the final two minutes of the half, the Bearcats had an excellent opportunity to even up the match with a barrage of strikes on goal; however, none were able to find their way into the net, leaving the Hawks with the lead going into the second half. Perez was a difference-maker in the game, finishing with seven saves and keeping her team in the lead despite a large disparity in shots.
The second half did not afford the Bearcats many additional goal-scoring opportunities, with BU only delivering four shots for the entirety of the half. However, in the final three minutes of regulation, the Bearcats saw their final opportunity to equalize. With under four minutes remaining in the contest, Hayes delivered a cross to junior defender Erin Theiller’s head near the far-left post, but the ball found its way into the keeper’s hands.
“I think our effort was strong all along, but we had great attitudes,” Bhattacharjee said. “You could see how hungry we were in the second half. In the second half we played with a lot more urgency which we needed to since we were down a goal. We made a tactical change in the last 10 to 11 minutes of the game where we pushed our numbers forward and created a couple of really good changes toward the end of the game to get the equalizer. I was pleased with players, there was terrific effort both on the sidelines and on the field, but it was just one of those moments where you think to yourself, ‘Okay, it’s coming, it’s coming,’ but unfortunately we couldn’t get the equalizer.’”
The win helps Hartford maintain its third-place position in the AE standings, while Binghamton dropped down to sixth. The top six teams in the conference qualify for playoffs. In the next two matchups against UMass Lowell and UMBC, the Bearcats are hoping to secure a playoff spot and improve their record. Hosting a quarterfinal is still a possibility for the team, although the odds are stacked against it.
“We did a really good job in terms of field of play and really well done in terms of intensity, urgency, defending, holding our line and creating chances,” Bhattacharjee said. “The one piece that was missing was just the finish. That is one thing we will take away. This was against Hartford, a team that is 4-1, and we know if we can do that to them we can do that against anyone in the conference. We feel confident going forward. We know the results will come as long as we keep pushing for it. If and when we make it to postseason we feel great about our chances against anyone in the conference.”
Kickoff against the River Hawks is set for 1 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 27 from Cushing Field Complex in Lowell, Massachusetts.