In its second consecutive match against UMBC, Binghamton men’s soccer notched with the Retrievers at two through ninety minutes, leading to an overtime period. In the 99th minute, a ball was lost in a crowd before junior midfielder Markos Touroukis lined up — just outside the 18-yard-box — and struck the ball toward the right lower corner, giving BU the inside track at advancing to the AE semifinals. Once the clock hit zero, the score stood at 3-2 and the Bearcats advanced to the conference semifinals for the first time since 2015.
“When we went down 1-0, the guys fought back,” said Binghamton head coach Paul Marco. “I was more nervous, not when we were down 1-0, but when it was 2-2. I thought that could’ve been a momentum swing, but our guys were great.”
BU (6-8-4, 3-2-2 AE) and UMBC (10-6-2, 4-3-0 AE) had proper preparation for their playoff matchup, facing each other just four days earlier in the final regular season game. The Bearcats emerged victorious in the previous matchup, taking down the Retrievers 4-2 on their home turf. Saturday marked Binghamton’s second victory over UMBC this week. In both games, the Bearcats rallied after early 1-0 deficits.
Although the Retrievers added the first score early, BU had a first-half response when junior back William Noecker put Binghamton on the board in the 36th minute — with a header off a deep free kick from junior midfielder Shawn Coles. This was Noecker’s second goal of the year, with his first coming just a week ago against Bryant. The junior and the rest of the Bearcats’ back line were also firm defensively.
“We’ve been living on the backs, they’ve been great,” Marco said. “They competed hard and they minimized chances. There was good one-versus-one defending and good set piece defending”.
The match entered the break knotted up at 1-1, however, both teams came out of halftime looking to be more aggressive. The game got chippy as there were 14 combined fouls for both teams in the second half. Binghamton finished the match with 24 fouls and UMBC ended with 14. The resulting free kicks provided a plethora of opportunities for both squads.
Neither team found the back of the net until the 67th minute, when a ball coming off of a free kick found its way to redshirt senior midfielder Parker McKnight. McKnight blew by the Retrievers’ defense and drove straight to the baseline. There, the senior whipped a pass across the box to redshirt junior midfielder Anthony Lazaridis, who blasted a one-timer into the top left corner, his fourth goal of the season.
Despite now trailing, UMBC responded just two minutes later, tying the match on a headed shot off of a corner kick. The ball was scored in the top left corner and grazed the diving hand of senior goalkeeper Mats Roorda. The Binghamton defense bent but did not break, holding the Retrievers to only two shots for the remainder of the game following their 69th-minute goal.
The game headed into extra time tied at 2-2 as both teams faced a potential season-ending loss. Offense was quiet for both sides in the first extra time period, and although the Bearcats netted just one attempt, they used it to their advantage. With a minute remaining of a gritty first half of extra time, Binghamton had a fast-break developing. Senior back Michael Bush sped down the touchline and launched a cross into the box. The ball bounced around between both teams, eventually settling at the feet of Touroukis. Touroukis did not waste the golden opportunity, as he fired a shot on net that found the bottom right corner for what would end up being the game-winning goal.
“The team is very close,” Marco said. “It’s been that way all year. The closeness, the camaraderie, the culture — whatever you want to call it — it’s a very good one”.
The win advances the Bearcats to the semifinals of the AE tournament, where they will look to keep their season alive against the one-seeded and No. 20 New Hampshire Wildcats on Thursday, Nov. 10. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Wildcat Stadium in Durham, New Hampshire.