After being defeated in a penalty shootout by UNH in the 2022 AE championship game, the Binghamton women’s soccer team flipped the script and began America East (AE) conference play with a 1-0 win against UNH on Sunday afternoon in Durham, New Hampshire. After getting on the board in the first half, a strong defensive performance by junior goalkeeper Kaitlyn Williams helped BU secure a 1-0 victory.

“In a conference where there will be a good number of one-goal results and the final [AE] standings will be tightly packed in the end,” said Binghamton head coach Neel Bhattacharjee. “It’s critical to get the full three points [in] any opportunity you can. To get the result on the opening day and do it on the road against one of the better [AE] opponents in UNH makes today an even more significant result.”

Binghamton (2-4-3, 1-0 AE) and UNH (3-4-1, 0-1 AE) both fought to be the first ones on the board early on in the match. BU had the first attempt of the game in the seventh minute after senior midfielder Victoria McKnight got a look that went just left of the goal. Shortly after, Binghamton attempted another shot on goal that was saved by the Wildcats’ keeper. Once the Wildcats got the ball, they fired three shots in the span of two minutes, all of which were saved by Williams. Possession continued to rotate between the two teams, but both sides were unable to capitalize on their opportunities to score.

However, in the 31st minute, sophomore forward Lauren Clark scored to give Binghamton a 1-0 lead over UNH. The Bearcats followed this up with two more shots in the remaining 13 minutes in the half but were unable to find the back of the net. Going into halftime, BU found themselves leading the Wildcats with a 1-0 advantage, totaling nine shots in comparison to UNH’s seven.

“Our depth really showed well today,” Bhattacharjee said. “It was terrific for the entire backline and [Williams] to get the shutout, strong midfield play from [graduate student midfielder Olivia McKnight], and a quality finish from [Clark] to get the 1-0 result.”

Going into the second half, Binghamton looked to increase its lead. Once again, the Bearcats were the first to get a shot off this half only three minutes in, but it went wide left. After this attempt from BU, the Wildcats took one of their own eight minutes into the half, but this shot was saved by Williams. Later in the half, UNH got off three shots in the span of just one minute in an effort to try and tie the game but was unable to find the equalizer.

The Bearcats also made an attempt of their own in the 67th minute in hopes of making it a 2-0 game but were unable to connect with the back of the Wildcat’s net. This would be BU’s second and final shot of the half. The Wildcats looked to even the score several times, tallying a total of 14 shots in the second half with four of them making it onto the net, but they were saved by Williams. Neither team scored in the second half and when all was said and done, Binghamton found itself on top, defeating the reigning AE champions in UNH 1-0.

“We will enjoy this win and recover from today as well as getting some rest from a hard week that included matches with Maryland and Cornell,” Bhattacharjee said. “But we will get back to work later this week and prep for UMBC and be up for another demanding [AE] match.”

BU is set to return home as they continue to AE play against UMBC on Sunday, Sept. 24. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at the Bearcats Sports Complex in Vestal, New York