The Binghamton men’s soccer team rose to the occasion this past Saturday as it defeated Canisius, 5-1, in front of the ESPN3 cameras. With this win over the Golden Griffins (6-2-0), who had won their last six games, the Bearcats improve to 3-4-1 and earned their first victory in five games.
The match was relatively contested throughout the first half with the Bearcats holding a slight advantage, courtesy of a goal from redshirt freshman back Kurt Wesch. He found the back of the net with a shot from outside the box to give Binghamton the lead after the first 30 minutes of play. Both teams were quiet for the rest of the period and heading into halftime the score remained at 1-0.
At the half, the Bearcats made some adjustments and the match appeared to take on a whole new persona. Just seven minutes into the second period, Wesch swiftly crossed a ball to freshman forward Jack Muller, who perfectly executed a leaping header to extend their margin to two.
“It was a very, very good goal,” said BU head coach Paul Marco. “Perhaps one of the best we have seen all year.”
Just 32 seconds after the first goal of the second half, the Bearcats struck again. Redshirt senior midfielder Charlie Novoth passed to sophomore forward Haris Brkovic, who fired a shot from the top of the box and managed to place it under the Golden Griffin’s keeper, increasing the advantage to 3-0.
“We talked about playing longer diagonal balls to the opposite side, either the striker, midfielder or even a wide back could get into that space,” Marco said. “And Charlie [Novoth] played a terrific pass across their back line, and Harris took it off his chest and beat a player and finished it — it was outstanding.”
By scoring twice within 32 seconds, the Bearcats broke the school record for fastest consecutive goals. The previous record was 36 seconds, set in 2007 in a match against Maine.
The Bearcats, however, were not settling with just a 3-0 lead, and less than two minutes later, Brkovic stole the ball from the Canisius defense and beat the keeper to net his second goal of the game.
“The next one was just pure effort, he stripped the ball from the center back and buried it,” Marco said. “He was ready to play.”
Canisius attempted to come back with a goal in the 63rd minute, but was unable to close the 4-1 gap over the rest of the period. The Bearcats further quelled their efforts with a goal from junior forward Nikos Psarras, assisted by junior midfielder Harrison Weilbacher, with less than four minutes left in the game. This was Psarras’ sixth goal of the season, and Weilbacher’s first assist.
The five goals scored by the Bearcats over the course of the match was the highest single-game tally since a Nov. 1, 2014 match against Stony Brook, in which they also netted five goals. Additionally, a win of this magnitude to happen against a team that has not lost in over a month provided the Bearcats with some much-deserved confidence following a couple of weeks of intense fitness training under Marco.
“We’ve always thought all year that we’re a pretty good team, we just have to put better performances in,” Marco said.
Hoping to carry its momentum from its dominant performance over Canisius, Binghamton is scheduled to take the field next against Cornell on Tuesday. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. from the Charles F. Berman Field in Ithaca, New York.