In its regular season finale on Wednesday night, the Binghamton men’s soccer team was annihilated by Albany, 5-1. The loss was the worst suffered by the Bearcats (7-5-6, 1-3-3 AE) in four years.
With a postseason berth already secured thanks to a 0-0 draw against Stony Brook on Friday, the only thing at stake in the match was BU’s seeding in the America East (AE) Tournament. With a win, BU would have earned the fifth seed; a loss would have dropped BU to the last seed. Depending on the outcome, Albany (10-5-2, 4-2-1 AE) could have ended with the first through fifth seeds.
Less than two minutes into play, Albany was awarded a corner kick that struck gold. The ball was launched from the right side of the field and headed in by Albany senior defender Bernardo Mattos to put the Great Danes ahead.
After allowing the quick goal, BU nearly netted the equalizer a few minutes later. Freshman midfielder Matty Flax created space and crossed in a ball that redshirt sophomore forward Isaiah Barrett headed into the box, barely missing to the left of the post.
For the remainder of the half, BU controlled possession, preventing Albany from finding quality chances. In the 38th minute, senior forward Logan Roberts found a hole in the defense and fired a strike. The Albany defender deflected the ball, though, stifling another good opportunity for BU. Then, BU caught a bad break on the counterattack when Albany kicked a ball in from 10 yards that found a man in front, giving the Great Danes a 2-0 advantage with five minutes remaining in the half.
“It was disappointing to go down 2-0 before the half,” said BU head coach Paul Marco. “But we talked about it, regrouped and I thought the guys’ frame of mind was great coming out for the second half.”
The positive mindset was short-lived as BU conceded another goal to Albany just 13 seconds into the half. The goal further dampened the hopes of a comeback. BU contributed directly to the tally, as a failed clearing attempt hit off of redshirt freshman goalkeeper Alejandro Cubillo’s hand and sailed into the net for another goal. Once again, BU responded well, controlling the pace of play and creating opportunities, but failing to convert.
In the 60th minute, Albany again found the back of the net to take a commanding 4-0 lead. Less than two minutes later, BU conceded a fifth goal to the Great Danes. The score came off of a feed from the center to the right side, and prompted Marco to insert redshirt freshman goalkeeper Chris Shutler.
In the final three minutes of the game, BU created its best scoring chances. In the 88th minute, junior forward Ben Ovetsky was fouled inside the box, which set up a penalty kick. Ovetsky converted the shot — BU’s first penalty kick of the season — to make the score 5-1. BU had two more chances in the final minute, but came up short on both occasions.
“We did not really play badly, but everybody underperformed when it came to competing and making the game difficult for Albany,” Marco said. “We underperformed when it came to competing.”
No. 6 BU is set to face No. 1 seed Vermont on Saturday in the quarterfinals of the AE Tournament. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. from Virtue Field in Burlington, Vermont.