After Stony Brook sophomore forward Vince Erdei scored in the sixth minute of sudden-death overtime on Friday night, Binghamton players filed toward the locker room, trying to figure out how they had let an early 1-0 lead turn into a disheartening 2-1 loss. Head coach Paul Marco, however, stopped his players, encouraging them to stay on the field and “remember this feeling, so they will do anything [to prevent] feeling like this again.”
Friday night’s loss to the Seawolves (7-6-1, 3-2-1 America East) knocked BU (8-6-2, 3-2-1 AE) out of first place in the conference standings and clinched a postseason appearance for the Seawolves, who were defeated by Binghamton in the first round of last year’s postseason tournament.
For the majority of the first half, neither team generated many scoring opportunities, as both offenses were stifled by impressive play from each team’s back line. Finally, in the 37th minute, graduate student midfielder Pascal Trappe received a pass from sophomore forward Ben Ovetsky, maneuvered around a Stony Brook defender and shot the ball in the upper right corner of the net. Binghamton outshot Stony Brook, 5-4, in the first half and headed into halftime with a lead for just the fourth time this season.
The Seawolves came into the second half with a re-energized offense which outshot the Bearcats, 9-3. BU, however, held off Stony Brook’s advances thanks to an impressive effort by junior goalkeeper Robert Moewes, who recorded six saves during the game. With just 3:13 remaining in regulation, the Binghamton defense was finally penetrated by SBU freshman midfielder Serge Gamwanya, who broke away from his defenders and fired a long shot into the lower left corner of the net to force the game into overtime.
“The goal that was scored was a great shot,” Marco said. “I mean, he never should have gotten to that position, but once he was there, there was nothing stopping it.”
Riding the momentum from its late-game heroics, Stony Brook controlled play for much of the first overtime period, challenging the Binghamton back line with three shots in the first three minutes. With 4:51 remaining in the period, the Seawolves’ pressure proved to be too much for the BU defense, as Erdei launched the game-winner into the lower right corner of the net before tumbling into a somersault, unable to stop his momentum.
Binghamton’s late-match shortcomings on Friday night highlighted a trend that has haunted the Bearcats throughout their otherwise successful season, which has seen them win the most matches since 2009. Of the 18 goals conceded by the Bearcats this season, 15 of them have been given up after the first half. Marco believes that these late-game failings are due in part to a relative lack of stamina from his players.
“During the season, the goal is to recover between matches, so we’re not able to work on fitness,” Marco said. “It’s something that the coaching staff and I are aware of. The number of goals we allow late in games is definitely something we want to work on.”
Before their loss to Stony Brook, the Bearcats had dropped just one conference matchup all season, going three weeks without losing a match. In its most recent victory, BU clinched a postseason spot and will face conference-leading Albany in its final game of the regular season. The Bearcats can still finish anywhere from first to fifth in the America East standings.
“It’s very exciting to be competing for the regular season title,” Marco said. “The last couple of years, we were a little bit unlucky, but the group this year has really come together well.”
Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. on Wednesday at the Bearcats Sports Complex in Vestal, New York.