Katherine Scott/Pipe Dream Photographer Redshirt junior forward Kayla Saager was the focal point of the Binghamton women’s soccer team’s offense this weekend, tallying two goals in the team’s pair of games.

Despite not playing its best in the first half against Fairfield University, the Binghamton women’s soccer team escaped the first 45 minutes tied at zero. After entering the second period with a renewed focus, the Bearcats (4-1-1) outshot the Stags (2-3-0) 16-6 for the remainder of the match, but it wasn’t enough. On its first shot of the second overtime, Fairfield nullified all Binghamton momentum and edged out a 2-1 victory on Friday night.

“We played well enough over the course of the whole duration to get the win,” said BU head coach Neel Bhattacharjee. “It’s frustrating to come away with the loss.”

The Bearcats started the game sluggishly, lagging on defense and failing to create opportunities offensively. BU recorded eight fouls and only one shot on goal in the opening half. Fortunate to end the half unscathed, Bhattacharjee’s squad was revitalized early in the second half, as redshirt junior forward Kayla Saager buried her third goal of the season from 35 yards out.

The team had created enough scoring opportunities to secure the victory, but impressive saves by the Stags’ keeper and a failed shot attempt by freshman forward Genna Michitti kept the game within reach. Fairfield was eventually able to force overtime by scoring a goal created by countering Binghamton’s attack in transition at 78:44.

After the Stags netted the game winner and took victory, 2-1, the Bearcats had to immediately shift their attention to Iona, with their next game only two days away.

“We were able to get over [the loss] pretty quickly,” Bhattacharjee said. “[You’ve] got to have a short memory when you have a quick turnaround. We had a good focus getting ready for Iona.”

On Sunday morning, Binghamton translated its rejuvenated spirit into logging two goals within the 15-minute mark against the Gaels (1-5-0) during the second match of the weekend. Long strikes from freshman midfielder Dora Hayes and Saager gave the Bearcats a comfortable 2-0 lead.

After building a two-goal margin, the team’s concentration shifted to shutting down the Iona attack. Relying on their depth, the Bearcats sent in 17 different players to secure a 2-0 victory, marking BU’s first shutout of the season.

“We had a good amount of depth, which we needed to [use] on the second game of a weekend,” Bhattacharjee said. “We showed our ability to play not just in a competitive style, but with some flare as well.”

As a key component of Binghamton’s offense, Saager has facilitated the attack for several of her teammates through her diverse skill set. Leading the team in goals and assists, she provided offense when the team need it the most.

“Kayla can show us a different look,” Bhattacharjee said. “She knows where her teammates will be to follow up rebounds, to play her balls in. Obviously, teams are starting to focus in on her more and more, and as that happens, that opens things up for us, giving us a good chance to score.”

Following BU’s victory over the Gaels, the Bearcats will continue their seven-game road trip. Not playing again in Vestal, New York until October, the squad will work hard to minimize the impact of traveling and maintain an aggressive approach.

“We’ll certainly miss being able to play at home during that time because that’s certainly been an advantage,” Bhattacharjee said. “We’ll be able to manage that and keep improving … and if we do that, we’ll be in a good mindset as we travel for these next few away games.”

Binghamton’s stretch of away games continues this Thursday night, as the team travels to Easton, Pennsylvania to take on Lafayette. Kickoff from Metzgar Fields Athletic Complex is scheduled for 7 p.m.