With 34 minutes left in the second half of play, the Binghamton men’s soccer team’s consistent pressure on Stony Brook opened up a chance for a Bearcat lead. The opportunity came off a BU shot blocked by a Seawolf, falling square into the path of junior forward Oliver Svalander.
Svalander took the ball first-time in his stride, sliding a shot into the bottom left-hand corner of the net a few yards away from the keeper. Svalander’s goal was the deciding moment in the Bearcats’ 1-0 victory over their conference rivals.
“[Scoring] is the best feeling ever,” Svalander said. “Either an assist or goal is beautiful, but this is a team effort.”
BU’s (6-2-0, 1-0-0 America East [AE]) win over the Seawolves (5-3-0, 1-1-0 AE) marks its opening game and victory of the conference season. Binghamton was picked last in the 2021 AE Men’s Soccer Preseason Poll with Stony Brook placing directly above it in eighth.
“Right now, we’re flying,” said redshirt junior goalkeeper P.J. Parker. “We all felt really good coming into the game and now we get another week to prepare against UMass Lowell.”
Svalander, who scored his third goal of the season on Saturday afternoon, said both he and the rest of his teammates came into the matchup with great energy.
“Both the energy on and off the field was really good,” Svalander said. “I had a great feeling this morning and when we showed up, everyone was so excited to go out and play, especially in front of a crowd like this.”
The 2,605-person crowd was the second-largest in the Bearcats Sports Complex’s history. The stands were packed thanks in part to BU’s conference opener falling on the Saturday of Family Weekend, as the Bearcats are off to their best start in almost 15 years.
The game was tightly contested from start to finish. By the time the buzzer sounded in the 90th minute, the Bearcats and Seawolves both tallied eight shots, two saves on net and 13 fouls each. There were also only five shots on goal — Binghamton took three, beating out Stony Brook’s total of two.
“This game was very tight,” said Binghamton head coach Paul Marco. “Shots were even, corners pretty even and throw-ins for both teams pretty dangerous. Just a moment here or there and we were very fortunate to put our moment away.”
While Binghamton retained its winning position throughout the second half, the Seawolves nearly shook the scoresheet in the 70th minute after Stony Brook freshman forward Jonas Bickus fired a shot only a few yards away from the left side of the Binghamton net. The Stony Brook goal was only prevented by Parker, who parried the ball straight into the air. BU cleared the falling ball off the line to snuff out the danger.
“[The save] came out of kind of a half-chance,” Parker said. “He turned on the ball and hit it way harder than I expected. I just got my body [as] in front of it as possible and the defense did a great job at clearing the opportunity.”
In front of Parker was redshirt junior defender Carter Beaulieu. Marco credited Beaulieu’s performance despite the Bearcat not appearing much on the stat sheet.
“Carter Beaulieu might have been the man of the match for us,” Marco said. “He was outstanding competitively, very efficient with the ball, sorting guys out, encouraging guys. I thought he was terrific.”
The Bearcats have not recorded this good of a start since 2007. BU has a perfect home record this 2021 fall season and has won six of its eight games thus far. While one of its losses was a 7-0 battering by Syracuse, the other was a 2-1 drop in a closely contested game at Niagara.
Next up for BU is an away matchup against UMass Lowell on Saturday, Oct. 2. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Cushing Field Complex in Lowell, Massachusetts.