It may be getting colder, but the Binghamton men’s soccer team is just beginning to heat up on the field. Facing off against Hartford in their first America East (AE) Conference match of the season, the Bearcats (2-5-2, 1-0-0 AE) took home a well-deserved 2-0 victory.
“Hartford was a good team, they have some very tricky players,” said BU head coach Paul Marco. “I thought defensively we did a great job of keeping the team compact. We were very good [at one-on-one] defending. I think all the things we talked about this week and leading up to the match, the guys executed quite well today. Very proud of the guys.”
Binghamton came out onto the turf looking for a win on Saturday night, and within the first four minutes, graduate student midfielder Kevin Flesch, assisted by sophomore midfielder Noah Luescher, put the ball into the net. This was incredibly notable, as in previous games this year it has been the Bearcats surrendering early goals to their opponents, and on Saturday, the tables finally turned.
“We get a goal directly from the training ground — those things are always great,” Marco said. “I thought that our attacking guys were very good in the run of play, and I thought on set pieces we were quite dangerous. Overall, a complete performance by the guys. I couldn’t be prouder at the moment.”
Play remained competitive for the duration of the first half, with both BU and Hartford (0-6-3, 0-1-0 AE) firing away shots. However, it was not until the second half that the Bearcats were able to find the back of the net, courtesy of sophomore forward Jack Muller, assisted by senior midfielder Harrison Weilbacher. The goal gave Binghamton a comfortable margin with just under 30 minutes left in regulation.
In response, Hartford jumped into action on the offensive end, putting up four shots before the match was over. Redshirt junior goalkeeper Chris Shutler was able to ward off their attack, though, and kept the Hawks scoreless. When the whistle sounded at the end of the match, Binghamton captured the victory, 2-0.
This was Shutler’s fourth career clean sheet. He racked up four saves over the course of the game.
“I really thought [Shutler] played his part today,” Marco said. “He didn’t try to do too much, he tried to play his role behind the guys and I thought he was excellent.”
The Bearcats have a weeklong break before they kick off against their second AE rival, the University of New Hampshire. Marco has no plans to let the team’s victory go to its head, however.
“We still can do better throughout the matches,” Marco said. “We have to look at why we’re having a dip occasionally in a match. I thought that the attacking guys were quite good in the first half. We had a little bit of a let down in the second half, so we’ll address that. This open week allows us to get after the guys physically, so hopefully we can push them a little.”
Binghamton will face off against New Hampshire on Saturday, Sept. 29, during family weekend. Play is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. from the Bearcats Sports Complex in Vestal, New York.