The UNH women’s soccer team (5-5, 1-1) suffered their first loss in conference play against the Binghamton Bearcats (8-2-1, 2-0) this past Sunday at Wildcat Stadium.
The Wildcat’s grinded their way through a hard-fought defensive battle, but they were not able to come out victorious losing 2-0.
Binghamton seemed to be determined from the opening tap, as they were intent on avenging their 2-1 loss against the Wildcats during the 2018 season.
It would be safe to assume that UNH viewed this game as a measuring stick due to the success of the Bearcats so far this season, also considering the point in the season that they are at, but head coach Steve Welham didn’t view the big Sunday matchup that way.
“We didn’t really see this game as a measuring stick game. This game was kind of finding out what we can do and what we are about against quality opponents. Binghamton showed us something that we haven’t seen all year and that’s a high defensive line,” said Welham.
The first half was the epitome of a rock fight, as both teams were unable to generate anything consistent offensively. Defense and goaltending have been strengths for both squads so far in 2019, so it was anticipated that there would be a limited amount of goals, and that held true for the first 68 minutes of the match. Neither team registered a shot in the first 45 minutes.
Legitimate offensive action did not start to unfold until the 47th minute when senior forward/midfielder Kaylan Williams was able to find a seam in the Bearcat defense and generated enough force to put a shot on Binghamton sophomore goalkeeper Haylee Poltorak from 18 yards out. Poltorak was in perfect position and saved the shot with relative ease.
The 59th minute was one that embodied the nature of the game because it included chances for both the ‘Cats and Binghamton. Williams was able to get another shot on Poltorak from the right side of the 18-yard box to start the sequence, but it was weak and floated right into her mitts. Binghamton junior midfielder Dora Hayes countered with a strike from the right-side wing that was intercepted by UNH sophomore goalkeeper Cat Sheppard.
One minute after Hayes’ scoring bid, senior midfielder Liz Lane was on the receiving end of a Wildcat through-ball that led her just outside the penalty-kick line, and her shot cruised over the left side of the crossbar and left Poltorak with a breath of alleviation.
Welham acknowledged that the first team to score a goal in this particular game was bound to gain the upper hand emotionally and on the field.
“It was evident that whoever scored the first goal was going to win the game,” Welham said.
The first goal that Welham alluded to didn’t come until the 68th minute when newly entered Bearcat, junior midfielder Sarah Dibble was able to coral a 5-yard pass from Hayes and take a touch before sending the ball into the back of the net, putting Binghamton up 1-0.
From then on, UNH went with a three-back approach where they decided to take out a defender and insert an extra attacker to try and put more pressure on the Bearcat defense.
This tactic worked out possession wise, but not on the scoreboard as Binghamton’s first-year forward Maya Anand was able to trap a rebound off of a Dibble scoring try that caromed off the left post, and she managed to tap it in from close range. This put Binghamton up 2-0 and that score was stationary through the final whistle.
Welham stressed that his team had chances to win the game, but they just couldn’t capitalize on their chances.
“We had our fair share of chances that we didn’t score, and we didn’t capitalize on our one v. one situations. We have to improve on that area. If we want to win games like this then we have to excel in that area,” Welham said.
UNH continues America East play when they travel to Burlington, VT on Sunday, Oct. 6 to face off against a 5-5 UVM team. The game will take place at 1 p.m. on Virtue field.