In the final seconds of the Binghamton women’s soccer team’s season opener in Albany, the Bearcats were tied at one with the Great Danes. With 12 seconds left on the clock, sophomore forward Maya Anand sent a through-ball up the field and hit junior forward Stefania Piantadosi in stride. Piantadosi broke through the Albany defensive line and with one defender on her tail, closed in on the net and fired a shot past the Albany goalkeeper. On a last-second goal, Binghamton won a thrilling 2-1 season opener in Albany, New York.
“We knew that if we stuck to our game plan we had a chance, and the second goal there at the end was a deserved goal,” said Binghamton head coach Neel Bhattacharjee. “You know we had really good possession throughout the match, especially in the midfield. At the end there for the second goal, it was a really great setup by [Anand] and a quality finish by [Piantadosi] for the game-winner. It was a complete team effort and an exciting finish there at the end, where we were able to take the game.”
The Bearcats (1-0-0, 1-0-0 America East) came out strong against Albany (1-3-0, 0-1-0 America East). In the 27th minute, senior defender Erin Theiller headed in a free-kick from sophomore midfielder Victoria McKnight to give Binghamton a 1-0 lead. McKnight redshirted her freshman year due to a preseason injury, but the Vestal High School alumna was able to make an impact in her collegiate debut. With Binghamton’s backline holding off Albany, the Great Danes were unable to respond for the remainder of the half.
“We knew we had to get some nerves out of the way, which is very typical for any first game of the season, but it is especially true for this year, considering we haven’t played in 491 days,” Bhattacharjee said. “After the first five to six minutes, we got into a rhythm, which led to possession buildups and good passes and then we can build our concepts from there. It’s just a matter of playing through it and then getting that first goal was a great confidence booster, and the main key is to just focus on ourselves.”
In the second half, the Bearcats still held their 1-0 lead halfway through the period until Albany’s freshman midfielder Olivia Piraino tied the game at one. The half continued in a stalemate until it was finally ended by that last-second combination play between Anand and Piantadosi.
The Great Danes were picked third in this year’s AE preseason poll, and Bhattacharjee spoke on the importance of earning a win over one of the top teams in the conference.
“It’s critical to get a win like this, as it is a very competitive conference,” Bhattacharjee said. “It’s important that you try to get off to a good start and for us also, we are playing Albany at their place and they are one of the defending co-champions. So, to get a result like this is great for our confidence and great to start out. We learned a lot about ourselves and how we overcome adversity as well as how resilient we are as a team. With our attitude and game plan, it led to a fantastic team victory today.”
Even with the 491 days in between their last collegiate competition, the Bearcats held on against an Albany team that had already played three matches this season.
“We did a good amount of work in terms of our system of play, which is different from how we have played in years past,” Bhattacharjee said. “It really showed the strength of our midfield and how high-quality our midfield play is. We’ve done a good amount of work to prevent any defensive breakdowns, which we did quite a bit of that today, along with our finishing which was shown through those two goals today. Overall, we’ve made tremendous progress since the start of the preseason and I think we will just continue to improve from here.”
Next weekend, the Bearcats will return home to take on Stony Brook on Sunday, March 14. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at the Bearcats Sports Complex in Vestal, New York.