Binghamton head coach Neel Bhattacharjee has spearheaded the women’s soccer program since December 2015, and is now getting ready to enter his eighth season as the coach of the team. Coming off of one of the Bearcats’ most triumphant seasons yet, Bhattacharjee has continuously built a team worthy of what it has achieved over the course of his tenure so far.
During his seventh season at the helm, Bhattacharjee led the Bearcats to a first-seed finish in the America East (AE) conference, and earned the right to host the championship title game for the first time in 18 seasons. Despite losing on penalties in the final of the postseason tournament, Bhattacharjee’s most recent season in charge has shown proof of an upward trajectory, and due to this, he has been named Pipe Dream’s Coach of the Year.
“The biggest highlight honestly [was] just over the season how our players came together and the belief that they had in one another,” Bhattacharjee said. “We had a solid group. They care for one another, they’re selfless, they’re willing to do a lot of the right things off the field, and what we talk about within our program is staying committed to the process, believing in the process and if we do the right things on a daily basis with the process, then we know good things are going to result in the end.”
In the 2022 season, BU managed a 9-5-5 overall record, and a 6-1-1 record in AE play, while playing in its second title appearance in the last three years. After bringing its semifinal matchup against Albany to penalties, Binghamton faced UNH in the finals, its only AE opponent to add a loss to the Bearcats’ record. Another penalty shootout would be the deciding factor in sending UNH to the NCAA tournament. Despite falling behind 4-1 in the first half, the comeback push and resilience to stay in a high-stakes game is a testament to Bhattacharjee and his team’s efforts.
“We’re looking forward to putting ourselves in a good position to hopefully compete for an America East title both in the regular season, and hopefully get us to a point where we can compete for an America East postseason championship again and hopefully not need to overcome that final bit and get to the NCAA tournament,” Bhattacharjee said.
For future seasons, Bhattacharjee credits the arrival of Athletics Director Eugene Marshall for further garnering a winning culture within the Binghamton athletics community. Coinciding with the success of adjacent programs at the University, women’s soccer is one of many bright spots both now and in the future.
“[Marshall] has high standards and high expectations, so he wants to win and you can feel it through the different teams,” Bhattacharjee said. “You see the success of our lacrosse teams playing in the semifinals this weekend, volleyball and what they did in terms of also winning the regular season title, men’s soccer making it to the semis, softball in the top two, baseball obviously having won the America East last year making it to the NCAAs. The individual performances in swimming, cross country, track [and] wrestling. It’s just an exciting time to be a Bearcat right now and that energy, it’s very palpable when you walk around the Events Center and the West Gym.”
Looking ahead to fall 2023, Bhattacharjee and his new-look squad will seek to defend their one-seed finish and return to the AE tournament final — but this time going for its first championship title since 2004.
“Yes, they’re very good soccer players and want to compete at a high level, but at the same time they understand how important our culture is, and that’s something we certainly spend some time to work on both on the field and off the field,” Bhattacharjee said. “So for us, it means having a strong team bond and a strong team culture, and if we do that, that’s where as a team we can come together, whether it means celebrating terrific moments and big wins or being in a position where we can overcome any kind of adverse situations.”