The Binghamton women’s soccer team had a near-perfect performance during Sunday’s game against Cornell, defeating the Big Red, 2-0. Of the 15 shots taken by the Binghamton Bearcats (3-3-2), 13 of the shots were on goal, making this game Binghamton’s most accurate shooting performance of the season.
“We’re defending higher up the field, so that starts our transition closer to goal, and when we have that, that gives us better shot selection,” said BU head coach Neel Bhattacharjee. “We’re not settling for shots 30 to 35 yards from goal; we’re getting closer in and around the 18 [yard line].”
In the beginning of the match, Cornell (1-4) and Binghamton traded shots for the first 18 minutes before freshman defender Kayla MacKenzie stepped in to make both the first goal of the game and the first goal of her collegiate career. As a left back, MacKenzie demonstrated her knowledge of offensive play as she took a powerful shot that deflected off a Cornell player into the goal.
“We’re very happy for [MacKenzie] to get her first collegiate career goal,” Bhattacharjee said. “[MacKenzie] is a left back, so it’s not usual for one of our defenders to score, but in [MacKenzie’s] case, she’s someone that can really help us get the ball out of the back.”
Out of the eight shots taken by the Bearcats in the first half of the game, all eight were on goal, with shots taken by sophomore midfielder Sarah Dibble, sophomore midfielder Dora Hayes, redshirt senior forward Kayla Saager and sophomore forward Genna Michitti. Just one out of five shots taken by the Big Red were on goal, with the lone shot on goal taken by junior midfielder Karli Berry. The shot resulted in the only save freshman goalkeeper Haylee Poltorak had to make the entire length of the game.
“I think that we took a good chunk of pressure off of [Poltorak] and really the whole back line,” Bhattacharjee said. “I thought the defense was outstanding, but really it was everyone. We struggled on our Western Pennsylvania trip when we played St. Francis and Duquesne because we really weren’t defending as hard as I would have liked up the field, so what’s really changed since then is our forwards have done a good job in terms of defending higher up the field, our midfield has done a good job of defending the middle part of the field and when that happens, it creates turnovers and more possession opportunities for us.”
Binghamton controlled play during the second half of the game, only allowing the Big Red to attempt two shots, whereas the Bearcats were able to put in seven with five on goal by Saager, Michitti and junior forward Ryan Reilly. Shortly after a yellow card was given to Cornell’s junior forward Kennedy Yearby, one of the shots by Saager found the back of the net, extending Binghamton’s advantage to two in the 80th minute. The score was assisted by Reilly, who fed the ball to Saager’s head. Saager directed the header to the top right of the goal, marking her fifth goal of the season.
The Bearcats have two games before America East Conference play begins and are set to play Bryant University next on Thursday, Sept. 13. Kickoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. from the Bearcats Sports Complex in Vestal, New York.