On Sunday, the Binghamton women’s soccer team was unable to find the back of the net for its fifth consecutive game, losing to UAlbany. The 2-0 defeat concludes the Bearcats’ season as the match was a round-one matchup in the America East (AE) playoffs.

“We played good soccer, had some high quality chances, but for whatever reason we couldn’t put the ball in the back of the net,” said Binghamton head coach Neel Bhattacharjee. “Unfortunately our season ends in the quarterfinals.”

In the 61st minute, the Great Danes (6-7-4, 4-3-2 AE) cleared the ball out from the goalie box to find a UAlbany striker. Being boxed in by senior defender Kayla MacKenzie, the Great Dane flicked the ball over the head of the Bearcat (8-8-3, 4-3-2 AE) and began her breakaway with two defenders on her tail. Redshirt junior Gabby Piontkowski reached to pick the ball head-on, but was dribbled past by the attacker, leaving only senior goalkeeper Haylee Poltorak between the ball and net. Poltorak ran far out from goal as the striker feinted left, juking the goalkeeper for a clear shot on net that gave Albany the lead.

“We actually had three defenders who still could have made a play on her,” Bhattacharjee said. “But she was able to beat them all with pace. Sometimes that’s all it takes — one special player with a high amount of speed … It’s one of those things we actually talked about, we probably could’ve fouled her once we finally saw her break out.”

The Great Danes used that momentum to come back and add an insurance goal in the 75th. As Binghamton tried to reset and clear the ball, senior defender Nicole Scudero was unable to find another Bearcat and hesitated. UAlbany used her indecision as an advantage as two Great Dane strikers swarmed the ball. With Scudero unable to recover, UAlbany was able to win a one-on-one matchup with Poltorak as the ball passed the rushing Poltorak to the left, giving UAlbany a commanding 2-0 lead.

The match saw halftime adjustments give UAlbany the upper hand. BU’s shot tally was nearly cut in half in the second period by a margin of seven to four. Poltorak was also unable to record a save following halftime, while in the first half she grabbed four. The Bearcats were unable to record a single shot in the first 15 minutes of the second 45 minutes.

“We wanted to use the width a little more and stretch out their backline,” Bhattacharjee said. “I thought in the second half we did a really good job at getting the ball out wide, but we just didn’t get that final touch.”

This was the second straight matchup between these two teams. The first came in the regular season final where BU looked to lock up the two seed and round one bye with a win. A second-half goal gave UAlbany a win and forced Binghamton to travel to Albany for its lone playoff matchup.

“I didn’t really see it as an advantage or disadvantage, one way or the other,” Bhattacharjee said. “Thursday was a bit of a let down, the way they won.”

This was potentially the last game for five BU seniors, including Poltorak. Each senior has an extra year of eligibility due to an NCAA competition waiver enacted in response to COVID-19. The waiver allowed winter and fall sports from last season to not count toward a student’s eligibility. Poltorak, however, is not slated to return next season.