With just over 10 minutes remaining in its matchup against UMBC on Wednesday night, the Binghamton men’s soccer team seemed destined for its third straight overtime contest. That is until junior forward Ben Ovetsky darted past the UMBC defense, struck the ball into the back of the net and handed the Bearcats (6-2-5, 1-0-2 America East) their first conference victory.
After his game-winning tally in the Bearcats’ 1-0 win over the Retrievers (4-4-3, 0-3-0 AE), Ovetsky is now tied with sophomore forward Nikkos Psarras for the team lead in goals with four. The match marks the sixth time this year BU has shut out its opponent. Redshirt freshman goalkeeper Alejandro Cubillo, who was called on to make just one save, posted his fifth clean sheet of the season.
“[Cubillo], the back four, and [sophomore midfielder Florian Orth] just keep getting better every game, and are growing in confidence,” said BU head coach Paul Marco.
BU’s defensive unit has allowed an average of 0.92 goals per game and has limited opponents to fewer than two goals since Sept. 11. Even though the game was BU’s fourth straight one-goal effort, the Bearcats are content with their recent offensive showings.
“[Scoring] isn’t a concern of ours,” Marco said. “Obviously we’d love to score more goals, but I think when I watch the game I’ll be pretty pleased with the performance the guys put forward.”
The true strength of BU’s offensive efforts lies in its ability to possess and move the ball.
“We were very aware and sharp with our minds as well as our feet,” Marco said. “We were outstanding — very useful with the ball.”
This combination of offensive discipline and defensive confidence has proved potent for the Bearcats, who remain unbeaten in AE play.
“This is perhaps the best soccer we’ve played in a very long time,” Marco said. “Certainly, all year, this is the best that this team has played.”
BU has struggled to get shots on net and finish plays in the offensive zone, which is something the team plans to practice before it takes on its next opponent — New Hampshire. Against UMBC, BU only produced four shots on goal. Which, in the competitive AE, may not be enough going forward.
“Anybody can beat anybody, on any given day,” Marco said.
As of now, the Bearcats, with their trend of poise with the ball and defensive cooperation, have put themselves in position to compete with the top dogs of the conference.
“We’ve got to secure [wins],” Marco said. “Ties will keep the league very tight, so hopefully we can continue with our winning ways.”
BU is set to continue AE play against UNH on Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Bearcats Sports Complex in Vestal, New York.