The Binghamton women’s soccer team started its season on the right foot, defeating both St. Bonaventure and Manhattan 2-1. Looking to improve on last year’s 6-10-2 record, the Bearcats (2-0) could not have opened the season with a better result. The emergence of a younger core and the presence of withstanding leadership have contributed mightily to this result.
“We want to get after every opponent,” said BU head coach Neel Bhattacharjee. “We’re treating every game [like] we’re never the underdog; we expect to come out [and] get a W.”
Both of the opening matches featured the Bearcats rallying from mistakes made early in halves. Against St. Bonaventure (0-2) on Friday, Binghamton ceded a goal less than two minutes into the first half. The team responded aggressively, outshooting the Bonnies 16-3 in the half, highlighted by a goal from freshman forward Essie Bonney.
In the second half, BU continued its dominant play, taking the lead off of a strike from sophomore forward Ryan Reilly in the 61st minute and never looked back.
On Sunday, Binghamton succeeded in not allowing a goal near the beginning or end of the first half, carrying a 1-0 lead into halftime. However, just 41 seconds into the second half, Manhattan (1-1) tied the game. The Bearcats did well to respond again in the face of adversity, as a goal from sophomore defender Sam O’Malley gave them a 2-1 lead which would hold for the rest of the game.
“We talked about having pride in the first and last five minutes of a half,” Bhattacharjee said on Sunday. “We haven’t done that through the first two games. That’s something we have to rectify, and I know we’ll be able to fix [this issue] so that we don’t put ourselves [down early in a half].”
A standout performer for Binghamton in the opening weekend was senior goalkeeper Katie Hatziyianis. Her presence in net was integral to BU earning its 2-0 record. Her communication kept BU’s back line in position for through balls and crosses, exemplifying her value in ways other than making crucial saves.
“You hope that you can go through 90 minutes without having any [defensive] breakdowns,” Bhattacharjee said. “But in reality … sometimes those hopes open up toward the end. Katie was able to do her job — make the saves that she’s called on.”
Another exceptional player this past weekend was redshirt junior forward Kayla Saager. The first Binghamton women’s soccer player to receive the America East (AE) Player of the Week award since 2014, Saager was extremely impactful in her first two games as a Bearcat, recording three assists and one goal in BU’s four-goal weekend. Leading the AE in both points (5) and assists (3), Saager is in a position to become one of the Bearcats’ top offensive weapons.
In order for the Bearcats to maintain their hot start, the team is simply looking to stick to their routine.
“For us to [continue winning], we gotta follow the blue-collar stuff,” Bhattacharjee said. “Follow the game plan, have good training sessions, all of that. We’ve been doing that up to this point, and I think the 2-0 start is deserved.”
Binghamton will next travel to Cleveland, Ohio, where they will take on Cleveland State University. Kickoff from Krenzler Field is expected at 4 p.m on Friday.