The 2016 season ended bitterly for both the Binghamton men’s and women’s soccer teams. The women closed the season by falling to Vermont, 1-0, in the final minute of play, while the men lost to Vermont, 2-1, in double overtime. Although the preseason is still six months away, planning for next season has already begun, as both squads announced their 2017 recruiting classes last week.
The men’s team received four commitments while the women’s team signed eight new players. The men’s squad, one year removed from a conference title game appearance, will look for this new class to give it the boost needed to get back to the finals. This year’s class will add a forward, midfielder, midfielder/back and a center back.
Forward Jack Muller should help the Bearcats with scoring. He scored the second most goals all-time at Perry Hall High School in Maryland and accumulated multiple honors, including all-county four times. Lucas Arzan, a midfielder from Forest Hills, New York, is talented in possession of the ball and is expected to play a role in the Bearcats’ midfield. Midfielder/back Chris Stamper of Poughkeepsie, excels at maintaining possession and is a strong passer. Rounding out the group is center back Ryan Pyszka from Leesburg, Virginia, who will provide more depth for the Bearcats’ defense.
The women’s soccer team will have many voids to fill after the graduation of seven seniors. When describing the women’s recruiting class, BU head coach Neel Bhattacharjee mentioned his eagerness to get some much-needed positional players. The class, which brings in new members at each position, is Bhattacharjee’s first at BU after taking over at the helm of the program last spring.
“[We] want to play the game the way it’s meant to be played in terms of building through the lines, so we’ll be able to play out of our back, link to our midfield, and be able to set up our forwards for some pretty dangerous finishing opportunities,” Bhattacharjee said.
According to Bhattacharjee, improving his team’s offensive power was one of two key focuses for this year’s class. Last season, the women’s team averaged less than a goal per game.
The coaching staff recruited players through a combination of surveying events and through training sessions and prospect clinics. Three players were recruited from the Syracuse Development Academy. Two players, Chloe Tracy and forward Genna Michitti, had already been recruited prior to Bhattacharjee’s hiring at BU.
“We know that when we saw these players, we were struck right away by the quality of the product they have on the field,” Bhattacharjee said.
Bhattacharjee said some of the recruits are expected to provide an immediate boost for the team in the coming year. Bhattacharjee will look for Michitti, who is from Binghamton and attended Maine-Endwell Senior High School, to see significant time next season and play a key role in the restructuring of the Bearcats’ attack. She scored 94 goals in four seasons in high school and was a three-time all-state selection.
Other players who could hit the pitch early on are Tracy, a midfielder from Sayre, Pennsylvania. She was the first ever in her district to have over 100 career goals and assists. Mackenzie Hanna of Baldwinsville, New York could get time behind starting goalie Katie Hatziyianis. Bhattacharjee said that he expects all the recruits to be able to compete for a lot of minutes.
The 19 returning players are continuing their training for next season, working on physical conditioning and technical work before moving onto more practical training in March and April. Since there are only 2 1/2 weeks of practice in the fall before the season opener on Aug. 18, Bhattacharjee is also working hard to make sure this year’s recruiting class is ready for the fall season.
“We’ll certainly be working with them and letting them know what to expect and how they can prepare themselves between now and August,” Bhattacharjee said.
Bhattacharjee has high hopes for his team in the coming season, predicting a possible postseason berth.
“We certainly feel like we’re now in a position where we can start to really make some good steps forward,” he said. “And that we will be making postseason America East play and be in a position where we can compete with anyone within the conference.”