The little things are what make or break a game, and for the Binghamton women’s soccer team, it was the little things that ultimately deterred the team from making the playoffs. In a heart-wrenching game against UNH, the Bearcats came out strong and redshirt senior forward Kayla Saager was able to put away a goal in the eighth minute of the game, but the team ultimately lost, 2-1. BU played strong for the remainder of the game, but with just three minutes left in regulation, it was a little thing that changed the entirety of the game. UNH’s freshman forward Julie Cane capitalized on a missed clearance inside of the box to send a near-perfect cross to junior forward Kaylan Williams, who headed the ball in, sending the game into overtime.
Just one minute into overtime, the game came to an end as Williams took a shot that hit the crossbar, which UNH junior forward Ally Reynolds took advantage of to knee the ball in from just two yards away.
“It was a pretty bitter, gut-wrenching way to drop the game,” said BU head coach Neel Bhattacharjee. “I felt we played well enough. I thought our performance was sharp enough, strong enough, our effort was there all evening long to get three points. Unfortunately, they had a set-piece goal with just three minutes left and then obviously the overtime winner.”
Even though the Bearcats (7-9-2, 2-6-0 America East) dropped the game, they fought hard throughout and ultimately outshot UNH, 16-14. Out of the nine players contributing to BU’s 16 shots, three of the players were defenders, showing a balanced offensive attack. Junior defender Lauren Spinnato had her first shot of the season against UNH (7-7-2, 3-3-1 AE), but the ball ultimately went high.
With the team knowing that it would not be advancing to playoff contention, BU fought hard in an attempt to win its final game of the season against Albany (11-6-2, 5-2-1 AE) but ultimately fell short, losing the game 1-0. The Bearcats had a solid performance and almost came away with a goal by sophomore midfielder Dora Hayes. However, her shot ultimately hit the crossbar.
“It really does come down to a matter of key moments,” Bhattacharjee said. “We hit the crossbar today; we hit the post against Vermont; things like that. And obviously coming within three minutes of New Hampshire, so it really does just come down to key moments that can change and define a season. Unfortunately for us, those moments went a little bit against us this year.”
Although it was a bitter end to the season, the Bearcats will only be saying goodbye to three seniors: defender Kaycee Pickard, midfielder Patty Loonie and Saager. While only three players will be leaving, they are all important presences on the field, and the team will have to compete next year without Saager, who held the No. 1 spot for shots in the AE this season. Saager has taken 85 shots in her final campaign, 10 above the next highest player, and also holds the No. 2 spot in the conference for goals scored (11) this season.
“Pickard is just the ultimate teammate,” Bhattacharjee said. “She does all the right things on and off the field — so respectful, so coachable. It’s just been great to see her mature as a person and as a player. [Saager] is obviously just such a force on the field, and she’s had to battle some serious injuries, and she’s had to re-establish herself with a couple of transfers, which isn’t easy to do. [Loonie] is such a force on the field, such an aerial presence and has been a great leader for us. She had a devastating injury freshman year, and she’s rebounded from that.”
While the season has come to a close this year, the Bearcats will continue to prepare for next season in the hopes of making playoffs next fall.