After finishing 5-10-3 in its 2017-18 campaign, the Binghamton men’s soccer team hopes to make great strides in this upcoming season. However, the team’s expectations failed to come to fruition in its season opener against Drexel, losing 3-2. The Dragons’ three goals all came consecutively within the first 11 minutes of the match.
“I don’t think it was a tough start to the season, I think it was a tough start to the game,” said BU head coach Paul Marco. “I was extremely surprised that we started the match the way that we did because it was really uncharacteristic of the guys we have seen for the last two weeks.”
Drexel (1-0) started off the scoring with a header from graduate student defender Griffin Mallas, who beat BU’s redshirt junior goalkeeper Chris Shutler low and left. A turnover from Binghamton (0-1) just three minutes later led to a 30-yard strike from Drexel’s junior forward Kwesi Allen to go up 2-0.
Sophomore midfielder Noah Luescher’s first shot of the season was saved by Drexel redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Cameron Sanders. The Dragons’ counterattack off the save eventually led to their third goal in the game’s 10th minute as Allen struck again.
“The guys made some really simple mistakes that I don’t know if they’ve made all preseason and some of them in all their time at Binghamton,” Marco said. “We certainly dug ourselves in a hole.”
Despite the rocky start, the Bearcats gathered themselves quickly and began to mount a hopeful comeback. Following a yellow card in the 14th minute on Drexel, Luescher assisted senior forward Nikos Psarras on a free kick that Psarras headed in from the far post.
Shutler saved a shot from Allen in the 16th minute, preventing the hat trick, and BU senior midfielder Connor McKnight brought the match within one on a shot from 15 yards out in the 17th minute.
That proved to be the last successful shot for either side as Binghamton’s surge of pressure going forward died down and Drexel held tight defensively.
“I don’t know if anybody had a great performance,” Marco said. “I thought McKnight was outstanding in the game, but he drifted in and out of the match. We didn’t get him the ball enough in the second half to give him the opportunity to be electric.”
The match started with a flurry of scoring from Drexel, and even though it seemed as if Binghamton could claw back, the differential between halves was evident. The Bearcats attempted 11 shots in the first half and just six in the second.
Despite the loss, Marco observed some developments in the preseason that he still believes will catapult BU to success.
“We’re strong on set pieces and we scored a goal from one,” Marco said. “We’re pretty good going forward and we have been solid defensively. I think the challenge for this group is to realize that their own performances were not where they should be and to come to training ready to improve on it.”
Marco hopes that the Bearcats use this loss as motivation to get this season back on the right track.
“I would say that right now training is going to be great because everybody is fighting to get this team going for the home opener on Tuesday,” Marco said.
Seeking its first victory of the season, Binghamton is scheduled to take on Iona College on Tuesday, Aug. 28. Kickoff is slotted for 7 p.m. from the Bearcats Sports Complex in Vestal, New York.