It may have been Halloween yesterday, but it seems the only thing spooky about Wednesday was the final Binghamton men’s soccer team’s 2018 America East (AE) conference record. With their loss to University at Albany last night, the Bearcats failed to qualify for the AE postseason tournament, ensuring that BU’s dismal 2-5-0 conference record and 3-12-2 overall record will stand until 2019.
“We were beat a lot this year by a lot of individual silly mistakes, and today was another one of those,” said BU head coach Paul Marco.
At the start of the match, UAlbany (8-9, 3-4 AE) burst out onto the field and put up five corner kicks over a span of less than two minutes. None made it into the net, but just 16 minutes into play, the Great Danes were able to get the ball past redshirt junior goalkeeper Chris Shutler, putting the score at 1-0.
The Bearcats mustered together three more shots before the end of the half and managed to keep UAlbany out of its goal, but the damage was already done, and the score remained at 1-0 going into halftime.
BU opened the second half with shots from both senior midfielder Connor McKnight and classmate forward Nikos Psarras, but neither play yielded a goal. Instead, just 13 minutes into the second half, the Great Danes put up another goal, bumping the score to 2-0. Before the Bearcats even had a chance to respond, Albany put another shot in the net just under seven minutes later.
“Our guys still kept trying to play, and we’ve lacked a guy up front to give us goals and that’s been a challenge for us this season,” Marco said. “We just haven’t had anybody step up and give us goals, and you can’t really win games if you don’t score goals.”
With 25 minutes left and the score at 3-0, the Bearcats’ dreams of postseason play looked bleak. Junior forward Haris Brkovic put up a quick shot, and sophomore midfielder Noah Luescher pulled together a shot and a corner kick, but BU’s fate was already sealed. Binghamton fell to the Great Danes, 3-0.
BU’s loss to Albany puts the Bearcats out of contention for the AE Conference Tournament for the second consecutive season. It was the Bearcats’ 2017 loss against the Great Danes that disqualified them from postseason play last year as well.
“I don’t think we did enough,” Marco said. “We didn’t come in prepared again for the second season in a row, so whatever the guys are doing over the summer wasn’t enough, and that hopefully will change in the spring season.”
In the 2018 season, the Bearcats’ total number of conference wins increased from one match in the 2017 season to two this year. But with two AE ties last year and none this season, their loss total increased by one as well. The season ended on a seven-game loss streak, and the Bearcats have not scored a goal in the past three matches and failed to score a goal in nine different matches throughout the season. BU was near the bottom or the bottom of the conference in assists, shots, goals, points and goals allowed.
Back in August, the men’s soccer team seemed hopeful about the start of the season, expressing ambitions to reach the AE Tournament, at least. With its hopes dashed and its dreams crushed, it’ll need to make big changes in the offseason especially to avoid the same dismal situation this time next year.
“We had such high expectations of the team with so many seniors on the team, so from that standpoint, very disappointed for the senior group who come in and, as freshmen, play for a championship, and as we see a lot of them through those four years, they’re terrific guys,” Marco said.
The Binghamton men’s soccer team will return to the field for the fall 2019 season, sans seniors such as midfielder Harrison Weilbacher, Psarras and forward Chris Nkoghe. It’s nearly impossible to say that the future looks bright.