It was a rough Homecoming Weekend for the Binghamton women’s soccer team. Looking to build off a strong two-game winning streak, the team instead got blown out in consecutive games. The Bearcats (7-6-2, 2-3-0 America East) fell to Stony Brook 4-0 on the road and followed up with a demoralizing defeat at home to University of Massachusetts Lowell, 3-1.
“We’ve got to regain our competitive mindset,” said BU head coach Neel Bhattacharjee. “You got to put in the work and you got to put in the effort … we’ve got to find that again.”
The Bearcats never had a chance against the Seawolves (8-5-1, 3-0-1 AE) on Thursday. Binghamton mustered a couple of shots in the first 20 minutes, but Stony Brook promptly took the lead on its first shot of the game, courtesy of senior forward Julie Johnstonbaugh in the 25th minute. Johnstonbaugh struck again just two minutes later to put the Bearcats in a 2-0 hole.
From there, the Seawolves cruised to victory, adding two more goals in the second half to cement their margin. Stony Brook put up a total of four shots on freshman goalkeeper Haylee Poltorak’s cage, and each made it past her. On the Bearcats’ side, redshirt senior forward Kayla Saager was the only effective member of the team’s offense, firing off four of the seven shots on goal for Binghamton.
Following that lopsided defeat, Binghamton turned to its home stadium, where it had yet to lose, to try to rebound and return to the win column. But even in the friendly environment of the Bearcats Sports Complex on Sunday afternoon, BU failed to overcome the offensive pressure of UMass Lowell (4-6-4, 2-1-1 AE).
In the eighth minute, Saager made a heads-up play by cutting off a pass back to River Hawks senior goalkeeper Julia Schneider for an easy tap-in goal. Other than that, the Bearcats offense was nowhere to be seen in the first 45 minutes. UMass Lowell controlled the ball for much of the half, and while the River Hawks did not put many shots on net, they took advantage of their opportunities up close.
“In the first half, we were pretty much outplayed and out-coached in every regard,” Bhattacharjee said. “We can’t expect to come out and give as poor performance as we did. And if we don’t work hard, if we don’t tackle, if we don’t defend and if we don’t play a possession quick, anybody can come here on our home field and get a result on us.”
The star of the game was undoubtedly freshman midfielder Emily Nelson of the River Hawks, who recorded all three of UMass Lowell’s goals. Her three scores came within a 16-minute span in the first half in which the ball was almost constantly on the Binghamton side of the field. The Bearcats surrendered more goals in that span than they did the entire rest of the season at home.
BU managed to up its pressure in the second half, but the River Hawks changed their strategy as well, largely sitting back on defense to counter Binghamton’s rush. Many of the Bearcats’ shots went wide, and Schneider came up with saves when she needed to, sealing a River Hawks 3-1 victory.
Once again, the only source of offense for Binghamton was Saager. She again had four of the Bearcats’ seven shots on goal against UMass Lowell, and scored Binghamton’s only goal of the weekend. Bhattacharjee, however, was not concerned about the lack of offensive diversity.
“One thing that we try to do is get our wingers and also our attacking midfielders involved in the attack,” Bhattacharjee said. “[Saager] is hungry in and around the goal, and if she has an open look we want her to take it … we want her to get a decent share of shots and when that happens, she’ll usually find the back of the net.”
The Bearcats look to rebound from their slump this Sunday, Oct. 14 at Hartford. Kickoff is schedule for 1 p.m. from West Hartford, Connecticut.