Midway through the first half of the Binghamton men’s soccer team’s season opener against Albany, sophomore defender Michael Bush sent a throw-in to senior midfielder Noah Luescher. When the Albany players were starting to get tired, the pair knew that they needed to make a move.

“When everyone took a moment off, [Bush] and I didn’t,” Luescher said. “Those moments can make or break a game. I was alone in front of the goalkeeper and just put it in the back of the net.”

The team celebrated after Luescher scored his first goal of the season, but he didn’t stop there. After Albany’s junior midfielder Haflidi Sigurdarson tied the score in the 59th minute off of a corner kick, Luescher was fouled right outside of the 18-yard box and awarded a free kick. As he has done so many times, he fired the ball into the upper-right corner of the net, starting his senior year off with two goals and giving Binghamton a 2-1 win over the Great Danes (0-1-1, 0-1-0 AE).

“The second [goal] was hours and hours of training and practicing for that free kick, and it shows off in the games,” Luescher said. “It’s just a great feeling when the ball goes in the back of the net. It’s indescribable.”

In season opening games, Luescher has five goals to his name in his four years with the Bearcats (1-0-0, 1-0-0 AE). In the 2019 season opener against Drexel, Luescher scored two goals, both off of free kicks.

“[Luescher’s] a special player,” said Binghamton head coach Paul Marco. “He can turn nothing into something, and he did that today twice. He had two outstanding goals – one in the run of the playoff, a quick throw-in and the [other a] set piece. He’s very dangerous on [set pieces]. He’s been very good for us. Just as good as he is on the field and the run of play and on set pieces, he’s been that good of a leader for our team too.”

While Luescher was the only Bearcat to score, redshirt junior midfielder Lucas Arzan had a shot on goal in the 75th minute that was saved by Albany’s goalkeeper.

On the defensive end, Bush, who assisted Luescher’s first goal, has an increased role this season. After defender Stephen McKenna graduated last spring, Bush is now leading the back four. Only a sophomore, he is taking on an important responsibility for the back end.

“The back four led by Bush were terrific,” Marco said. “I thought all four of them played really really well, and they’re young, so there’s a lot to come in the future from that group.”

Marco was also impressed with the goalies, sophomore Mats Roorda and redshirt sophomore P.J. Parker. The pair split the game, and each keeper had a save.

With 475 days since the team’s last game due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Marco seems excited that his players have finally gotten the opportunity to compete.

“I’m just thrilled that we got to play today,” Marco said. “With all that’s been going on in the world and college athletics starting back up, I’m just excited that we got to play today and the guys put in a terrific performance. I’m really proud of them.”

The Bearcats will look to secure another win this Friday, March 5 against NJIT. The last time BU took on the Highlanders was in 1999 before Binghamton was a Division I school. After joining the AE this season, NJIT will be competitors for years to come.

The game is set to begin at 5 p.m. at Lubetkin Field at Mal Simon Stadium in Newark, New Jersey.