After scoring three first-half goals, the Binghamton men’s soccer team shut out Bryant in the second half, and when the clock hit zero, BU clinched a spot in the America East (AE) tournament for the first time since 2019. The Bearcats return to Vestal with a 3-1 win with just one more regular season game to go.

“I thought the guys started out great,” said Binghamton head coach Paul Marco. “We were extremely competitive at the start of the game, which helped us get off on the right foot. The guys were very purposeful with what they were trying to do.”

BU (4-8-4, 2-2-2 AE) got the scoring started in the 26th minute of the game when graduate student forward Ethan Homler tapped in a cross from junior back William Noecker. After a through ball off a free kick from redshirt senior midfielder Parker McKnight found Homler’s foot, the graduate student found the back of Bryant’s (3-9-1, 0-5-1 AE) net. The Bearcats doubled their lead within two minutes as Noecker finished with a header off of a McKnight corner kick to take an early 2-0 advantage.

“The first [goal], was off of some savvy play by McKnight and [Noecker],” Marco said.

The Bulldogs cut down the BU lead by one in the 35th minute, but it wasn’t long until the Bearcats responded. Just four minutes later, the insurance goal, that allowed Binghamton to add to its lead, was scored by sophomore back Carlo Cavalar off a long throw-in from senior back Michael Bush.

“We got another set piece goal with [Cavalar],” Marco said. “I thought his header was great. I thought the guys played really well today. We leaked a goal when it was 2-0, and that kind of gave [Bryant] some life, but we came right back down and scored another goal, which was great to see. I thought our guys had good responses today to things that were happening in the game. We’ve shown some good growth over the last few weeks.”

Despite conceding a goal after parrying a ball back into play off a shot, Marco was happy with the growth and maturity of senior goalkeeper Mats Roorda as a player. Roorda faced nine shots, four on goal, and saved three of them.

“[Roorda’s] been outstanding for us,” Marco said. “He’s been so good that I was a little critical of him today after the game, and I chatted with him … As we’re talking, we’re just being critical of his play, and I think it’s wonderful because he’s that in tune with what he thinks he can and can’t do … His distribution was pretty good again today. His command of the box was really good today, again. Another good performance by [Roorda].”

After a positive performance, the Bearcats are looking ahead to their final AE regular season match of the season against UMBC. Despite already qualifying for the postseason, a win could result in Binghamton earning a home playoff match. Some players on BU are facing a potential suspension in the playoff game should they receive their fifth booking of the season against the Retrievers on Tuesday. This means some players may not play to avoid missing the playoff game, but Marco has made it clear that the Bearcats are playing to win no matter who can and can’t play.

“Depending on how the Albany game goes, we could be the three or the four [seed],” Marco said. “We have guys on cards too, so if they pick up a card in the UMBC game, then they wouldn’t be able to play in the playoff game. We’re trying to kind of figure out that piece right now. I would say that, thinking about it right now, we’re going after the game. Our game plan will be to go and try to win the game.”

BU will finish out its AE regular season against UMBC on Tuesday, Nov. 1. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at the Bearcats Sports Complex in Vestal, New York.