INSIDE BINGHAMTON UNIVERSITY
By : John Hartrick
The Binghamton Women’s Soccer team advances to the NCAA Division I tournament for the first time in its four-year history after a riveting 2-0 victory Sunday.
As the clock reached zero, a jubilant celebration ensued, with a boisterous crowd of nearly 400 pouring onto the West Gym Field to join the team, which was picked to finish eighth in the preseason poll. Binghamton will now advance to the 64-team NCAA tournament, to face Penn State at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 12, in State College, Pa.
The victory over Maine capped a remarkable season for the team. Playing in the conference tournament for the first time, the top-seeded Bearcats stymied their two opponents in back-to-back games, finishing off the second-seeded Black Bears with a goal in each half.
“I’m absolutely thrilled and so proud of our kids,” head coach Jeff Leightman said. “All the work they put in during the season really showed today. They kept on fighting despite any adversity. Today was an ugly game but it was our championship mentality that gave us the edge.”
The America East championship is the first won by a Binghamton women’s program and sixth overall since the school joined the conference in 2001. Maine controlled play for much of the first half, until the Bearcats struck with 9:30 remaining. Off a corner kick, freshman forward Tricia Reed (Oswego, N.Y.) outleaped Maine goalie Tayna Adorno and sent a header toward the unoccupied net, where a Black Bears defender reached out and stopped the shot with her hand, prompting a penalty kick call. Junior defender Meghan Taylor (Campbell Hall, N.Y.) stepped up and sent the 12-yard shot into the top left corner of the net for her second goal of the season. Taylor, whose defensive presence carried the team the entire season, was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
In the second half, sophomore midfielder Kelly Burnham (Endicott, N.Y.) scored an insurance goal at the 77:10 mark, knocking in a header from close range after senior linemate Caitlin O’Shaughnessy (Stony Point, N.Y.) had sent her own header across the goalmouth. The goal was Burnham’s second of the tournament.
While this is the Bearcats first appearance in the NCAA’s Division I tournament, the University’s Division III teams appeared in the NCAA tournaments in 1991, 1995 and 1996.