In his first game back from an ankle injury, sophomore forward Nikkos Psarras put on a show Saturday night in BU’s 3-0 victory over Buffalo. Psarras scored two first-half goals to lead the Bearcats to their first Homecoming win since 2013.
Psarras’ first goal came in the 16th minute on an assist from sophomore midfielder Harrison Weilbacher. Psarras maneuvered his way around three Buffalo defenders before chipping the ball over Buffalo sophomore goalkeeper Joseph Kuta.
His second goal was as skillful as his first. After a long ball by redshirt junior back Charlie Novoth got past a Buffalo defender, Psarras chipped the ball high over the onrushing goalkeeper’s head. The shot found the back of the net to put BU ahead, 2-0. His two tallies mark the first time that a Binghamton player has scored twice in the same match since last September, when senior back Zach Galluzzo netted two against Siena.
According to Psarras, the crowd of 1,801 present at the Bearcats Sports Complex — the largest all season — played a role in his success.
“Tonight was great,” he said. “I have to say that the crowd really helped out.”
The game was physical in nature throughout both halves. In the 66th minute, Psarras and his defender fell to the ground as they attempted to box each other out for a fly ball. A scuffle almost ensued, but the referees were able to quickly separate the two players. For Psarras, the match’s physicality worked in his favor.
“Playing physical is my thing,” he said. “I like that, so it really worked my way. That’s why I got the two goals.”
Although the Bearcats won by three, the match itself was much closer than the score shows.
“It may have looked easy with the scoreboard, but the game was not very easy,” said BU head coach Paul Marco. “It was a very tight game; they are a very good team.”
In the first half, BU outshot the Bulls, 10-4. Buffalo, however, refused to give up as the game progressed, outshooting BU in the second half, 9-5. Although the Bulls kept pressing, BU’s back line shut down the nation’s leading scorer, junior midfielder Russell Cicerone.
BU’s two captains, Novoth and Galluzzo, anchored BU’s defense. They, along with the help of redshirt freshman goalkeeper Alejandro Cubillo, led the Bearcats in shutting out Buffalo. At the end of the second half, the Bulls unleashed four straight shots, two of which were saved by Cubillo.
“Cubillo is terrific for us,” Marco said. “He’s great at shot stopping and his presence is getting better every day.”
Redshirt freshman back Stephen McKenna scored in the 58th minute for the first goal of his collegiate career. His tally was assisted by redshirt sophomore forward Isaiah Barrett and junior forward Ben Ovetsky.
“I am really thrilled for [McKenna],” Marco said. “I thought that goal really helped the momentum swing back toward us.”
The three goals tallied by the Bearcats represents their highest total since the first round of the 2015 America East tournament, when they scored three against Stony Brook in a thrilling comeback victory. With the win, Binghamton remains unbeaten in four home games this season.
The Bearcats are set to return to the field on Tuesday night against Bucknell. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. from the Bearcats Sports Complex in Vestal, New York.