On Tuesday afternoon, the Binghamton men’s soccer team faced off against NJIT for the first time in BU’s Division I program history. The match started off with an offensive outburst in the first half, followed by a scoreless second half by the Bearcats and an offensive push by the Highlanders to score one final goal in the last minute of play and bury Binghamton 4-2.

“Last time there was a full season, they won their conference and went to the NCAA tournament, they are a very good side,” said Binghamton head coach Paul Marco. “Fast forward to COVID-19 and they are still a very good side. Not much has changed.”

The America East’s (AE) newest member NJIT (2-3-1, 2-2-0 AE) provided a high level of competition against the Bearcats (2-2-0, 2-2-0 AE). Senior midfielder Noah Luescher started off the scoring with a strong free kick goal in the 10th minute of the match. Luescher’s goal, which is now his fifth of the season, marked his fourth game in a row with a goal. He became the first BU men’s player to score a goal in four straight games since 2012.

“[Luescher] is an outstanding and talented player,” Marco said. “He is one of the top players, and on free kicks he can go to either post. If you give him a chance he’s probably going to get a goal. He is a terrific leader for us, and that was a terrific goal he scored for us today, it was outstanding.”

Luescher’s point was followed by an unanswered three-goal barrage of NJIT goals, and two of which were within 65 seconds of each other in the 23rd and 24th minutes. The third was in the 37th minute. However, Binghamton did strike back with a goal of their own with 21 seconds remaining in the first half, as sophomore midfielder Sean Molloy converted a penalty kick, the first for Binghamton since forward Ben Ovetsky against Albany on Nov. 2, 2016.

“I thought that their goal was coming, and you could kind of sense they were going to get something, and our actions weren’t fast enough,” Marco said. “The spacing between players wasn’t good enough defensively, we didn’t provide a lot of cover for each other.”

The Bearcats were significantly outplayed in the second half with NJIT leading with 11 shots to Binghamton’s three. With 10 total shots on goal, redshirt sophomore goalkeeper P.J. Parker had a career-high six saves. The Bearcats had one shot on target in the second half, and were out possessed by the Highlanders. Marco said that despite the hard-fought match and good mindset, the Bearcats can improve on their fitness going forward.

“I believe we didn’t play particularly well today — I would like to have seen us play a little bit better,” Marco said. “A lot of guys looked tired today, and it’s something we have talked about for a while, but we really need to do a better job with the fitness aspect of our team. Their hunger and effort are really good but they just can’t do more than their body is going to let them do. Overall, we are just disappointed, and I know the guys are disappointed, but the best part of this game is that it’s passed us and we have to get ready for Friday.”

The Bearcats’ next game is set for Friday, March 26 against Albany. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. at Bob Ford Field in Albany, New York.