On Tuesday evening, the Binghamton men’s soccer team played its final America East (AE) match of the regular season. For the first time since 2019, the Bearcats move on to the postseason, securing the fifth seed with a 4-2 win over UMBC. The result also means BU will have to face UMBC again in the AE quarterfinals next time out as the Retrievers earned the fourth seed.
“I thought the energy in the group was outstanding,” said Binghamton head coach Paul Marco. “I felt like the guys up front were hungry to score goals. [Junior midfielder Shawn Coles] was outstanding today, perhaps man of the match.”
Binghamton (5-8-4, 3-2-2 AE) has now scored seven goals in its last two games, four of which coming against UMBC (10-5-2, 4-3 AE). The majority of the offense took place in the first half, as the Retrievers found the opener 23 minutes into the match. However, the Bearcats’ response didn’t take long to flip the game on its head. Coles earned his first goal of the game just under four minutes later, then soon after followed it up with an assist, setting up junior midfielder Markos Touroukis’ outside-of-the-box effort. Coles rounded out his eventful first frame by guiding in a fumbled shot from sophomore midfielder Billy Clark in the 37th minute.
“Coles, it’s that simple,” Marco said. “His energy was outstanding. His tenacity, his drive with the ball, his creativity, he was outstanding tonight.”
The second half began the same way as the first did, with UMBC finding its second goal in the 66th minute, setting the score at 3-2 in the Bearcats’ favor. Both offenses stayed stagnant over the next 20 minutes of play. That was until graduate student forward Ethan Homler secured the win for Binghamton in the 88th minute, retaking its two goal lead with under two minutes remaining. He was found unmarked in the opponent’s box by freshman back Will Mahoney. The freshman sent a cross from the right-hand side, whizzing past the Retriever keeper and finished off by Homler.
“I think that through the last month the group has really figured out what competitive spirit is and what it might take to win at this level consistently,” Marco said. “The attitude of the leadership corps of this team has been outstanding. They’ve been inspiring, they’ve been holding guys to excellent standards and I think we’re starting to see that in the play of the guys which is wonderful to see, and it’s at the right time of the season.”
Homler’s goal marks his fourth score in the last five matches. The graduate student has found his form just in time for the playoffs after a slower start to the season. This scoring streak has brought Homler to the top of Binghamton’s scoring charts, tied for first with Touroukis at four apiece.
“Yeah, I was struggling during the beginning of the season,” Homler said. “But, during training sessions, I’d stay after and work on my finishing. It was honestly only a matter of time before I got that first goal and the floodgates opened and more was to come.”
BU will now look to face its first opportunity at a playoff push since 2019, when it was knocked out by Hartford in the AE quarterfinals. The Bearcats are set to play a familiar foe as UMBC earned the fourth seed following the final match of the regular season.
“It was great,” Coles said. “We came out flying today. It was really good to win this game now going into Saturday with so much momentum, so much energy. We’re going to have a couple players back that weren’t able to play, and I’m really excited.”
Binghamton’s playoff run in the 2022 AE Tournament begins on Saturday, Nov. 5, with a rematch against UMBC. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at the Retriever Soccer Park in Baltimore, Maryland.