Coming out of an off week, the Binghamton women’s soccer team was defeated by Maryland 1-0 on Sunday afternoon at the Bearcats Sports Complex in Vestal, New York. After a strong performance in the first half, BU was called for a handball in the box, during the second half, resulting in a Maryland penalty kick that led to the eventual game-winning goal for the Terrapins.
“I’m proud of the performance,” said Binghamton head coach Neel Bhattacharjee. “Just gutted for the result. We went toe-to-toe with [a] Big 10 opponent. We did it for 81 minutes. [It was a] really unfortunate situation on [the penalty kick]. Unfortunately, that’s what the game came down to.”
The first half was characterized by offensive momentum from the Bearcats (1-4-2). After Maryland (3-1-4) got off the game’s first shot in the sixth minute, BU began to put on some pressure on the Terrapin defense by getting in the game’s next three shots. Controlling the midfield, Binghamton looked to attack the Terrapins’ box.
“We knew there were a couple of things that we could do centrally [and] a couple of things that we could do out wide,” Bhattacharjee said. “A big thing that we wanted to do was to win the physical battle … I’m familiar with Big 10 Soccer … it is a very physical, physical conference, and we knew that was going to be a part of the game.”
Despite their momentum, the Bearcats were unable to find the back of the net in the first. The closest BU would get was from graduate student defender Grace Vittoria. After a blocked shot and a corner kick, Vittoria had a look from the right side of the box that went just wide left.
BU’s defense played a big role in the first half, boxing in Maryland and clogging up space. Their physical defense would, however, result in five BU fouls. Yet, as Maryland attacked at the end of the half, BU would hold them to just one more shot as key plays from junior goalkeeper Kaitlyn Williams kept the score at 0-0 entering the half.
“Once we had good shape and good transition behind the ball, which is something we actually struggled on earlier this year, that put us in a good place in terms of keeping numbers behind the ball and being in good defensive shape,” Bhattacharjee said.
As the second half rolled around, Maryland would become more aggressive with the ball. The Terrapins got their first shot in at the 47th minute, unleashing a barrage of 10 shots throughout the period. Despite this push, Binghamton’s defense and Williams’ gloves kept the game tied for much of the half.
However, Binghamton’s offense couldn’t match its first-half pace and foul trouble plagued the Bearcats. When a Binghamton handball set up a penalty kick for Maryland, Williams couldn’t keep it away and Maryland took a 1-0 lead entering the final stretch.
“I talked to the official about it,” Bhattacharjee said. “That official is a very good official. He felt like our player could have had time from the distance to move the arm. Unfortunately, from where he saw from his vantage point, it looked like it hit her arm. So I get it … Really unfortunate that a well-played game like that comes down to [a penalty kick], but that’s why this game can be cruel at times.”
The Bearcats would continue to look for opportunities in the closing minutes to even the game. Despite a shot from senior defense Lexi Vegoda in the 86th minute that went wide left, BU wouldn’t get another shot off. When things were all said and done, the game ended in a 1-0 loss for BU.
“I think the thing that just let us down was the quality of the final pass,” Bhattacharjee said. “We had some great runs. The ideas and thoughts were very good. Sometimes the pace on the ball was just a little bit too much. Get to the key but before it was before one of our forward could run out too … It’s just a matter of can we get that final last bit on that final pass, to set up that final shot.”
Binghamton will begin a road trip over the coming week, starting with a stop at Cornell on Wednesday, Sept. 13. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Charles F. Berman Field in Ithaca, New York.