Entering into Homecoming Weekend tied for first place in the America East (AE) conference, Binghamton fell to Stony Brook, 2-1, in a heated conference game. The back-and-forth intensity eventually led to a scrum that resulted in two end-of-game red cards for the Seawolves (6-3-2, 3-0-0 AE), one to freshman defender Rondell Payne for fighting and the other to senior midfielder Serge Gamwanya for abusive language.
Through the first half, the game remained locked at a scoreless tie. With both squads playing tight defense, the Bearcats (3-7-2, 2-1-0 AE) were only able to get one shot off, and the Seawolves just had two. Both teams committed over six fouls in the half.
The stalemate was finally broken eight minutes into the second half. Stony Brook freshman midfielder Trausti Birgisson headed in a cross to give the Seawolves the lead in the 53rd minute. Stony Brook had an opportunity to do more damage when SBU redshirt sophomore midfielder Gabriel Fernandes ripped a shot on goal off a counter attack; however, redshirt junior goalkeeper Chris Shutler came up with a critical save to keep the Seawolves from extending their lead.
The Bearcats bounced back in the 73rd minute after sophomore midfielder Noah Luescher switched from playing on the left side of the field to the right. Sophomore back Chris Stamper crossed it into the top of the box where Luescher finished the play and tied the score up at one.
“[Luescher] scores another terrific goal to get us back in the game,” said BU head coach Paul Marco. “He showed today why he is one of the best players in our conference, and I think he’s one of the best in the country.”
Stony Brook received a free kick in the 85th minute and once again found the back of the net via header. Following the goal, the Bearcats were unable to muster another chance and ultimately lost, 2-1.
“On the second goal, we weren’t switched on,” Marco said. “We had enough guys back to deal with their guys and we just didn’t defend.”
Despite the loss, Luescher undeniably turned in a solid performance. Since being named AE offensive player of the week on Oct. 1, he scored his third goal in his past four games.
“Once he got into a rhythm of play, he was quite good,” Marco said. “When we needed him to be special, he was.”
Overall, Marco appeared happy with how the team played.
“I thought we battled in both halves quite well,” Marco said. “Credit a lot to Stony Brook, they were very good today.”
The Seawolves ultimately led the Bearcats in shots, 8-5. Shutler recorded three saves in total to keep the match close.
With the Seawolves’ victory, Stony Brook has taken sole possession of first place in the AE standings, while Binghamton dropped to a three-way tie for second.
Next up for Binghamton is an away game at UMass Lowell on Saturday, Oct. 13. Kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m. at Cushing Field Complex in Lowell, Massachusetts.