Rachel Tomei/Pipe Dream Photographer Junior goalkeeper Katie Hatziyianis is third in the America East with 4.47 saves per game.

After defeating Maine last weekend for its first America East (AE) victory, the Binghamton women’s soccer team is set to host conference rival UMass Lowell on Sunday. The Bearcats (5-8-2, 1-4 AE), who sit last in the AE, will look to move up in the standings against the sixth-place River Hawks (4-7-2, 2-3 AE).

BU came out of the gate firing this year, matching its 2015 win total in its first eight games. Head coach Neel Bhattacharjee believes this initial success was due to the way the veterans accepted the younger players, both on and off the field. As a result, he saw improved performance and chemistry during games.

“Starting in preseason, the older players saw how hungry these younger players were,” Bhattacharjee said. “They welcomed them in, realizing that they are all equal parts of this team, and we’re all working toward the same goal.”

But since their 3-1 victory against Temple on Sept. 11, the Bearcats have struggled mightily. Until finally coming out on top against the Black Bears last Sunday, BU was shut out in six straight games. During that stretch, the opposing team averaged just under 13 shots a game, while the Bearcats recorded fewer than nine.

“We need to create more opportunities for ourselves on offense,” Bhattacharjee said. “Our defense has been carrying the load for the past four weeks now, and it is time that we start giving them some insurance by being more careful with the ball, making good decisions, continuing to pressure opposing defenses into making mistakes.”

When BU took on UML last season, the River Hawks outshot the Bearcats by a staggering 23-10 margin. This season UML, which finished ahead of only Binghamton last season, has dropped three of its five AE matchups. The River Hawks are the only team in the league to have tallied fewer goals (9) than Binghamton (10).

To compete with UML, the Bearcats must increase their sense of urgency on offense, and take pressure off their junior goalkeeper Katie Hatziyianis, who is third in the AE with 4.47 saves per game.

UML’s biggest threat is junior midfielder Rachel Morrier, who leads the River Hawks with three goals and seven points this season.

Leading the charge for Binghamton will be redshirt junior back Michele Galvin to continue her impressive play. The two goals she has netted this season have both been game winners.

“Michele [Galvin] often doesn’t get the credit she deserves for the work she does for this program,” Bhattacharjee said. “She’s played her heart out in every game we’ve had so far this season, and she is as hard a worker as anyone on this team. We’ll be looking to her to get the offense flowing well and to create opportunities for herself and her teammates early on in the match.”

Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. on Sunday at the Bearcats Sports Complex in Vestal, New York.