On a rainy Sunday, the Binghamton women’s soccer team shut out Hartford in a 1-0 win at home. An early header from senior defender Nicole Scudero ended up being the determining factor in the defense-focused conference matchup.

“I knew this was probably gonna be a one-goal game and a tight America East [AE] contest,” said Binghamton head coach Neel Bhattacharjee. “The eleven on the field did a tremendous job in terms of what they did on the defensive front.”

After the Hawks (7-2-2, 2-1-1 AE) held possession for much of the opening minutes, the Bearcats (7-5-1, 3-1-0 AE) were able to gain possession and earn a corner kick off a Hartford defender. In the 19th minute, junior midfielder Olivia McKnight crossed the ball from the right corner into the middle of the box, leading to a high header from Scudero that crept over the outstretched hand of Hartford’s keeper. This was BU’s lone shot in the first half. Scudero had not scored in her previous three years with the team but has two goals in as many games. The senior attributes her goal to the team’s emphasis on practicing corner kicks.

“We just worked on corner kicks recently in practices, [McKnight] put a beautiful ball into the box, I saw it coming in and I saw the opportunity,” Scudero said.

BU’s defense came up big at the end of the game when the Hawks made a final push to score in the 88th minute. Hartford sophomore forward Imani Jenkins made a move into the middle of the field to set up a shot from the top of the box. However, junior defender Grace Vittoria made a critical stop to deny Jenkins on Hartford’s offensive attack. Jenkins is currently tied for the second-highest average goals per game in the AE.

“It was just denying her that turn, because [of] our scout we knew that she was a fast, quick and strong player so I knew if she was able to turn and face me it was going to be a lot trickier for me,” Vittoria said. “Keeping her back to our goal and forcing her backward and not letting her turn [kept her scoreless].”

There were only a total of four shots in the first half as each team’s backlines remained stout. BU’s defense remained that way as Hartford’s second-half shot total was more than doubled by the Bearcats, 7-3. Opportunities to score came around for Hartford, but the Binghamton defense was able to put a stop to these chances.

“It’s stressed so much coming into huge games like this,” Scudero said. “We couldn’t take our heads out of the game for 20 seconds because they could’ve gotten one. We just had to stay focused for 90 minutes.”

Senior goalkeeper Haylee Poltorak had another shutout game in goal. She had three saves and helped anchor the Bearcats’ defense in another close contest. Poltorak now sits at second in the AE in lowest goals-against average, save percentage and shutouts at .818, .845 and five, respectively. She also leads the conference in total saves with 60.

Binghamton came into the season ranked third in the AE preseason poll. Their lone loss in conference play came to the second-ranked team, UMass Lowell, on the road. The River Hawks are undefeated in AE play thus far.

“We can’t rest on our laurels, it’s great that after a couple weeks we’re standing where we are,” Bhattacharjee said. “Anyone can take care of business. For us, we got to keep that focus. It’s good for us to be in this position, but we still know there’s work to be done through the month of October.”

The Bearcats are scheduled to play NJIT on Sunday, Oct. 10. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at the Lubetkin Field at Mal Simon Stadium in Newark, New Jersey.