Heading into the final minutes of double overtime against Hartford, the Binghamton men’s soccer team made a costly mistake. In the sixth minute, a Binghamton player committed a handball in the box. Hartford’s sophomore forward Nadav Datner stepped up to the penalty spot and slotted the ball past sophomore goalkeeper P.J. Parker to give Hartford a 3-2 victory over the Bearcats.
“I don’t think there was any intent by [redshirt sophomore defender] Carter Beaulieu to play the ball with his hands,” said Binghamton head coach Paul Marco. “I understand how it could have been given, but I don’t think [Hartford] would’ve complained [if it wasn’t].”
Throughout the course of the game, the Bearcats (1-1, 1-1 America East) conceded two goals from penalty shots alone. The first goal came from the Hawks (2-0, 2-0 AE) and was buried in the 27th minute. However, Binghamton followed up on Hartford’s (2-0, 2-0 AE) goal in the 39th minute after sophomore midfielder Ethan Homler lobbed the ball into the box where senior midfielder Noah Luescher was able to slide in and score a tap in.
Only three minutes after Homler recorded an assist, the midfielder picked up the ball outside of the 18-yard box and turned inside to free up space. Lining up the shot, Homler hammered the ball into the top-right corner of the net and quickly gave Binghamton its second goal and the lead, which held going into the second half.
“Ethan Homler’s goal was outstanding,” Marco said. “That’s a class goal.”
While the Bearcats tried to hold their 2-1 lead, Hartford continued to provide offensive pressure against the away team. In the 65th minute, a Hawk on Binghamton’s left flank made his way behind the back line after a through ball was played and the referee’s flag stayed down. The home team grounded a cross toward goal, and Datner put the ball away to even the score.
“The two center-backs [sophomore Michael Bush and freshman William Noecker] today were solid,” Marco said. “But even those two guys have another layer than what they’ve [shown] today. Their levels are a bit better than what we got from them and they would hold their hands up and say that.”
After Hartford’s equalizer, neither team was able to put away any opportunities on net during the half. With overtime on the horizon, the Hawks made a final attempt in the 89th minute. A shot came in on the bottom right of the goal, but Parker covered the Bearcats with his first and only save of the game to prevent the Hawks from picking up a win in normal time.
Binghamton’s defense remained sturdy during both overtime periods. On Hartford corners, Binghamton often withdrew all 11 players back to the box to defend. Despite the effort, Beaulieu’s handball in the last few minutes sunk the Bearcats for their first loss of the season.
“Two weeks without playing a game and this is the response we get,” Marco said. “I thought [the performance] was very good.”
In addition to the handball, Marco also said he was upset with some of the calls during the game, including Hartford’s second goal and a controversial slide tackle by a Hawk in the second half that yielded only a yellow card.
“I really feel like we worked hard today, came back from 1-0 down to go 2-1,” Marco said. “I feel like we were beat up and robbed a little bit.”
The Bearcats will continue conference play when they take on UMBC next Friday, March 19. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. at the Bearcats Sports Complex in Vestal, New York.