Originally down 1-0, the Binghamton women’s soccer team came back to post two consecutive goals, the latter in the 83rd minute of play against the Cleveland State Vikings. Sophomore forward Ryan Reilly cashed in on a pass from fellow sophomore midfielder Carly Barnett to score the deciding goal and maintain a perfect 3-0 record.
The Bearcats got off to a rough start on Friday afternoon. The Vikings (1-3) took control of play for the first 20 minutes of the match, resulting in a goal courtesy of freshman midfielder Jenna Prathapa.
“The first 20 minutes it took us a while to settle in,” said BU head coach Neel Bhattacharjee. “Cleveland State, they took it to us in terms of their pressure, the physical play, and they were the better team over the course of that time.”
After that goal, the Bearcats began to take back control of the game, eventually tying the game in the 32nd minute with a goal from redshirt junior forward Kayla Saager. While they didn’t score another goal until late in the match, the Bearcats were able to maintain possession and continued to halt the Vikings’ offense for the remainder of the game.
Bhattacharjee said he was impressed with his team’s resilience in the face of adversity. Going into the final leg of the game, the Bearcats’ sophomore defender Lauren Spinnato was injured, forcing her to leave the game. Due to the injury, Barnett was shifted in BU’s formation and ultimately set up the game-winning goal.
“I was just impressed in terms of how our team dealt with adverse moments,” Bhattacharjee said. “You know sometimes a weak-willed, weak-minded team can kind of fold in those circumstances.”
Bhattacharjee continued to praise his team’s culture, citing it as one of the key components of their success thus far. According to him, the team appears to be more unified this year.
“All 27 of our players are bought in to what it is that we’re looking for both on the field and off the field,” Bhattacharjee said. “Everyone knows we have a common purpose. Everyone knows that they have a role and responsibility.”
Even with a cohesive unit, Bhattacharjee was able to pick a few players to spotlight. He said he was especially impressed with the play of senior goalkeeper Katie Hatziyianis, who has been an anchor on the defensive side because of numerous notable saves in the few games Binghamton has played so far this season. He also recognized the solid play of freshman defender Erin Theiller.
“[Theiller’s] learned the game well and dealt with opposing forwards really well,” Bhattacharjee said. “She gives us a sense of calm in the back.”
He also praised a large number of other players, remarking on how much depth and talent the Bearcats possess this year.
“They understand one another,” he said. “They support one another. It doesn’t matter if we’re fighting for the same position. It doesn’t matter if I made a hard tackle on you in training. Off the field, we’re all there doing the same thing, and that’s to make this program a successful one.”
Seeking its fourth win of the season, Binghamton is scheduled to play Niagara University on Monday. Kickoff from the Bearcats Sports Complex in Vestal, New York is set for 7 p.m.