On Thursday, the Binghamton men’s soccer team kicked off its 2022 season away at the James Madison Tournament. The Bearcats played two games in Virginia and dropped both of them, starting with a 3-1 loss to the Dukes and then getting shut out on Sunday against Drexel.

“I thought we were very good,” said Binghamton head coach Paul Marco. “We start the game a little nervous and then really come into the game twenty minutes in. We start to really turn it up a notch and have a little more belief. We get a goal and, before the goal, we probably should’ve had at least one more. And then to leak a goal with less than a minute in the half is heartbreaking, especially for a counterattack.”

In game one, a BU (0-2) newcomer opened the scoring as transfer junior midfielder Markos Touroukis put one past the JMU (1-1) goalie in the 34th minute. Touroukis, who hails from Greece and recently transferred to Binghamton from Coker University, started his Bearcat career with a curved shot from the edge of the box into the top right corner. Despite BU having a 14-9 advantage in shots taken, a second-half run from the Dukes clinched the game, with a goal coming at the end of both halves and a 64th-minute free-kick that took the lead for the home side.

“Just disappointing in that last minute of each half we leaked a goal,” Marco said. “I thought the game should’ve ended 1-1, but overall I thought it was a pretty good performance. If you take out the last minute of each half, it’s a 1-1 game.”

Tourokis was one of four BU debutantes in this weekend’s invitational, joining freshman back Luke Yates, sophomore back Carlo Cavalar and junior back Joe Spires.

“[Touroukis] played up front wide, he scored the goal against JMU, and what a great goal,” Marco said. “I think with him it’s gonna be patient with [the team], they’re figuring it out, the speed of play is a little quicker than they’re used to.”

The second game was played on Sunday against Drexel (1-0-1), ending in a 2-0 loss. BU had a goal reversed in the third minute of the game due to an offsides call. Soon after, consecutive yellow cards left Binghamton a man down with 85 minutes remaining. The Dragons added their first goal only a minute later and a 23-2 shot advantage secured the win for Drexel.

“Today we got an unbelievable response,” Marco said. “We score a goal in the first three minutes of the game that’s called back offside. It looked really tight. We asked the guys to do certain things and we were really on top of the game. We had two good training sessions leading in and the guys have already moved past Thursday’s game which was great to see. Today we came into the game and the guys were flying. Then, [sophomore midfielder Billy Clark] gets booked for what the referee interpreted as stopping a goal-scoring attack.”

Binghamton starts the season with an 0-2 record, a contrast from its 2-0 start in the 2021 season. Despite this, Marco believes the team is further ahead than last year and stresses resilience as a key factor for the team’s future improvement.

“We’ve got seven new players in,” Marco said. “So there’s a lot of new faces right now, so I think it’s just gonna take a little bit of time. Where we are now and where we were last year, even though the records are different, we are further ahead than we were last year playing-wise. I think the group has to become more resilient and a little bit better at understanding [that] we don’t have to go to win every ball. Once we figure out those two pieces, I think the group is going to grow immensely quickly.”

The Bearcats will play their home opener on Friday, Sept. 2 against Colgate. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at the Bearcats Sports Complex in Vestal, NY.