Key moments defined the Bearcats’ previous two games. Thursday’s 1-0 win against two-time defending America East (AE) champion Albany featured a game-winning goal by the Bearcats’ leading scorer, redshirt junior forward Kayla Saager. During Sunday’s game, the key moments favored the Catamounts, as they scored twice despite only accumulating seven shots throughout the game.
“You know those couple of key moments, that’s what the game comes down to,” said BU head coach Neel Bhattacharjee on Sunday.
The Bearcats dominated much of Thursday’s game against Albany, although they did not score during regulation. Binghamton (7-3-3, 1-2 AE) led the Great Danes (3-9, 1-2 AE) in shots, 18-11, behind a strong performance from Saager, who could have had an even better game, according to Bhattacharjee.
“I know she was frustrated, because she was probably good enough to put three or four away early in regulation,” Bhattacharjee said. “Whether it was a good save from the keeper or hitting the crossbar, which I think she did twice that game, she was relentless that game and it was just one of those matches. You just knew the game-winner was gonna come from her, eventually.”
Following Thursday night’s win, Saager ranked seventh in NCAA Division I players for goals scored (9), and fifth in the nation in total points (23). The Bearcats’ defense also put together a stellar performance on Thursday, posting their fifth shutout in seven games.
“A lot of it starts with our defensive pressure higher up,” Bhattacharjee said. “If our forwards are working and our midfield’s working, then it really limits the work that our backs and goalkeepers have to do.”
Just as key moments led to victory Thursday, a few key moments in the Catamounts’ favor led to a Bearcats loss on Sunday.
“Certainly, we had our chance, but our finishing was a bit off or that final pass was a bit off and you have to give Vermont credit,” Bhattacharjee said. “They came across in key moments of the match, whereas we didn’t exactly give that same quality on the other side.”
Despite leading the game in shots, 19-7, and shots on goal, 13-7, the Bearcats’ offense was unable to post a goal against the Catamounts’ defense.
“I just think it’s one of those days where we created chance, but unfortunately couldn’t get a goal out of it at the end,” Bhattacharjee said.
The Catamounts, however, were able to score twice, even though the Bearcats limited them to seven shots.
“We gotta be able to deal with shots from distance, balls from transition,” Bhattacharjee said. “All of those. I felt like we limited the amount of those moments, but you know those couple of key moments, that’s what the game comes down to.”
During the match, right before the break, senior goalkeeper Katie Hatziyianis was hit saving a shot and was forced to exit the game. Bhattacharjee is confident, however, that she will be back for Thursday night’s game against UMBC. In Hatziyianis’ absence, freshman goalkeeper Mackenzie Hanna surrendered one goal, but Bhattacharjee praised her performance, saying the goal she let up was not her fault.
“It’s tough, that backup goalkeeper position,” Bhattacharjee said. “You’ve got to step up and might be required to make a big play in the game. But, you know, I thought she did well, so regardless of whether it’s Mackenzie or Katie Hatziyianis, we’ll be ready to go in goal for Thursday. This [loss is] on us and we’ve got to accept it and we’re gonna be upset over it, have a short memory though and then move up, because we have to be ready to face another conference opponent in UMBC this Thursday.”
The Bearcats will next face off against UMBC this Thursday. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Bearcats Sports Complex in Vestal, New York.