The Binghamton University men’s soccer team will look to return to its winning ways this weekend in a crucial America East conference game against University of Hartford.
The Bearcats (6-7, 2-2 America East) put together an impressive start to conference play with two wins in their first two games, topping University of New Hampshire and University at Albany. But home defeats against defending conference champion Stony Brook University and first-place University of Vermont have somewhat halted the team’s momentum.
Despite suffering the consecutive losses, Binghamton head coach Paul Marco said his team “performed quite well” and remains optimistic going forward as a result.
“[The atmosphere] is great,” he said. “Soccer is the sort of game that doesn’t always reflect accurately if you are playing well or not. The outcome of the last two games did not reflect the team’s performance.”
Marco also said that the Bearcats would be in a much more comfortable position than the one they currently find themselves in — third in the conference standings — if they hadn’t wasted opportunities.
“Certainly we don’t have any points to show for the last two games,” he said. “Conference play is all about gaining points and trying to better position yourself for the tournament. I think the team is still capable of achieving some of the goals they have set. We just need to continue to play well and take our chances in front of goal.”
In their last loss to Vermont, the Bearcats outshot the Catamounts 16-6. Despite an abundance of changes, Binghamton couldn’t find a way to convert and fell in overtime.
“I think you make your luck,” Marco said. “I think that we created enough opportunities for us to have goals. We should have done better with the opportunities we created.”
Despite encouraging his players to focus on converting on more chances, Marco said the team has trained hard over the course of the week, seeking improvement in all areas, not just finishing.
“I never felt that we just have to sit back and maintain one area,” Marco said. “I thought that this was a week for us to get after them physically and improve our fitness. I thought this was a week to improve a little bit in front of goal, defending in the box and attacking in the box. I think it is a week to prepare for our opponent as it has been in the past. I would have said that this was a week of growth, not a week of specifics.”
With Hartford set to visit the Bearcats Sports Complex on Saturday, Binghamton will look to salvage its three-game homestand with a win in the final match. Even though the Hawks (6-7-1, 0-3-1 America East) are winless in conference play and sit rock bottom in the standings, Marco said he won’t underestimate the weekend’s opponent and fully expects another stern test of the team’s credentials.
“Hartford is really good,” he said. “They are struggling to get a result, but they are a good team.”
Marco also said that Hartford has some “terrific” and “electric” players. The Hawks have the ability to put points on the board, ranking No. 3 in the America East in goals per game. Freshman forward Javoni Simms, who leads the team with eight goals and 17 points, sits one goal behind Binghamton’s Jake Keegan for the conference lead.
“It is going to be a tight game, a game that our players will be ready for; we certainly have trained that way this week,” Marco said. “If we play well and take care of our opportunities in front of goal, we should come out with three points.”
The game is set to kick off at 7 p.m. on Saturday at the Bearcats Sports Complex.