The Binghamton women’s soccer team recorded its second conference victory on Sunday, hanging on for a 1-0 victory over UMass Lowell. The Bearcats (6-8-2, 2-4 America East) tallied just their fourth first-half goal of the season to put BU ahead of the River Hawks (4-9-2, 2-5 AE) and keep their postseason hopes alive.
“This was important,” said BU head coach Neel Bhattacharjee. “This was a critical game. It almost had a little bit of a playoff feel to it. We knew we needed this one.”
The match started off slowly, as both teams struggled to create chances on offense. This changed in the 26th minute when redshirt sophomore forward Jocelyn Acor was subbed in. After missing multiple games due to injury, Acor returned with a bang, giving Binghamton’s offense the boost it needed to secure the win.
Her dynamic speed shifted the of the entire match, beating Lowell defenders to register a breakaway goal in the 36th minute. The tally was her third of the season.
“Speed kills, and Jocelyn [Acor] has it,” Bhattacharjee said. “It changed the game, because we were then able to pressure higher up on the field, and then that led to the goal. She gives us that element.”
In the second half, the match got increasingly physical. Players fell frequently and the intensity of play increased on both sides. While Binghamton hadn’t planned this shift, it wasn’t surprising in such a close match.
“[The physicality] is to be expected,” Bhattacharjee said. “It’s a tight, one-goal game; it’s an America East conference game, so it’s going to happen. You saw two teams that were really battling and trying to grind out a result in the end.”
Binghamton outshot UML, 10-7, on the match. The Bearcats managed to stymie every change the River Hawks got, recording their fifth shutout of the season to secure the win. The back line, which has been BU’s main strength this season, allowed just two shots on goal, both of which were saved by junior goalkeeper Katie Hatziyianis.
Hatziyianis’ most impressive stop came halfway through the second period, when UML was granted a penalty kick. Facing off with UMass Lowell junior midfielder Rachel Morrier, the River Hawks’ leading goal scorer, Hatziyianis correctly guessed the shot’s placement, diving into the lower left corner to refuse the equalizer.
“I try with the intimidation at first … I’ve got to get into my own head and then try to get into the shooter’s head as well,” Hatziyianis said. “Usually I’ll try to guess one way or another and I happened to guess the right way. It’s just instinct.”
The Bearcats currently sit in sixth place in the conference. With two games remaining, Binghamton has the opportunity to double its conference win total and contend for a playoff berth.
BU’s next match is scheduled for Thursday at UMBC. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. from Retriever Soccer Park in Catonsville, Maryland.