The Binghamton men’s soccer team made a trip to New Hampshire on Saturday night for an America East (AE) matchup. The Bearcats fell 1-0 in a tightly contested game against the top-ranked and only undefeated team in the conference, UNH.

“Pleased with the performance, but disappointed with the outcome,” said Binghamton head coach Paul Marco. “The guys are really improving. We’ve played, since Hartford, really good soccer. We’ve gotten better at competing, and our competitive spirit is now shining a little better.”

BU (3-8-4, 1-2-2 AE) faced pressure from the Wildcats (11-3-0, 5-0-0 AE) early on as they got a shot on goal just after the first minute. However, the Bearcats responded minutes later with a shot of their own from redshirt junior midfielder Anthony Lazaridis. In the 26th minute, Binghamton got its first and only shot on goal when graduate student forward Ethan Homler found himself in front of the net. The Bearcat got the shot off, but it was directed right down the barrel of the keeper, who made the save. UNH found more consistency in its attack as it slotted in the only goal of the match just one minute later. The Wildcats broke down the field and passed a through ball to the middle of the field, splitting the difference between BU defenders. UNH tapped the ball once, regained balance and sent a strike to the near upper 90, making it 1-0 in favor of the home team.

“Prior to [the goal], [UNH] really didn’t have a look at the goal,” Marco said. “I thought we were very good. We changed the shape of the team to play against [UNH] … I was really pleased with how the guys striked and executed.”

Throughout the contest, Binghamton struggled to get any consistent looks when in the opposition’s final third. For the entire game, BU managed just three shots with only one being on goal. In comparison, the Wildcats fired 16 shots with four on goal.

“[UNH] has a lot of older guys,” Marco said. “They bring in a lot of post-grads and some transfers. [UNH head coach Marc Hubbard] does a really nice job of getting some older guys, good international players.”

Despite seeing a decent amount of activity, senior goalkeeper Mats Roorda was resilient in goal as he made three saves total. His backline improved in the second half as well, with the Wildcats having fewer opportunities than the first. The Bearcats held them to six shots total and only one on goal, as opposed to the 10 shots and three on goal they allowed in the first half.

“One area where the boys need to improve on is moving from one moment to the next,” Marco said. “In the second half, I thought that we were outstanding in moving from action to action, moment to moment. It was something we talked about at halftime, and the guys were very good in the second half with it.”

UNH controlled most of the game in open play and on dead balls, as the Wildcats had eight corner kicks to the Bearcats’ three. However, BU earned a corner in the 84th minute, giving it one last opportunity to tie the game. Sophomore midfielder Billy Clark was able to get onto the cross but couldn’t find the equalizer, guiding it out of play.

“I thought we were very good tonight,” Marco said. “We had a really good game plan, the guys executed very well and in one moment in the game, we conceded a goal. Really disappointing. I thought we were gonna walk away with something there tonight.”

With just two games left on the conference schedule, BU will turn its attention to its next matchups. Despite the loss to UNH, Marco said the team is still in good spirits. The Bearcats are all alone at fifth in the AE with five conference points. Binghamton would clinch a playoff spot with a win and a NJIT or UMass Lowell loss or tie in their next game.

“[Now] we go back home and get ready for Bryant,” Marco said. “The boys’ spirits were good in the locker room after it. They know that they put in a good performance. You could feel the disappointment in them, but overall I think they’re pretty pleased with how they’ve grown in the past month.”

Binghamton is scheduled to face Bryant on Friday, Oct. 28 for its penultimate match of the regular season. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. at Sutton Field in Smithfield, Rhode Island.