Soccer, Sports

Second to none

As a crowd of 436 strong stood in the rain with under 11 minutes remaining in Saturday’s America East championship game at Nickerson Field, senior Jin Oh took a pass from junior Richy Dorman, split two Binghamton University defenders and chipped the ball over goalkeeper Jason Stenta. The ball crossed the goal line into the back of the net, giving the Boston University men’s soccer team its first conference title since 2004.

‘It’s just a blur to me right now,’ Oh, who was named tournament MVP, said after the game. ‘I saw Richy Dorman and I knew he was going to get the ball through, and I had an opportunity to take advantage of it. It’s a great feeling. All year I’ve been kind of slumping up and down, so I’m glad I can contribute to my team at the most important time.

‘I’ve waited all four years for this,’ Oh continued. ‘I told the guys in the locker room before the game, ‘I’m going to walk off the field with that ring today.’ And we got it.’

BU coach Neil Roberts’ squad was able to withstand the Bearcats’ (12-6-3) offensive pressure for the final 10 minutes to earn its seventh AE crown and second consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament. BU (11-5-3) is the first AE school to capture both the men’s and women’s conference championships in the same year.

‘When Jin Oh scored the goal, I knew we had it,’ senior Jon Jonsson said. ‘We just had to battle through the last 10 minutes. I was exhausted with like two minutes left, but I was just like, ‘Keep on going!’ And I think we were all thinking like that. I mean, it’s for the championship. And 10 minutes? That’s not a big deal after a whole season.’

BU struggled to break down the Binghamton defense in the first half, but the Terriers’ relentless pressure forced six corner kicks. Three of freshman Michael Bustamante’s corner serves appeared to be on the verge of connecting with junior Shaun Taylor’s head, but Stenta punched all three away at the last second.

The Bearcats, however, had the best chance of the first half. With 5:25 left, senior Ryan Tomko broke through two BU defenders, leaving him one-on-one with senior goalkeeper Hrafn Davidsson. Tomko wasn’t able to get much on the shot, and Davidsson was able to grab it with a quick dive to his left.

Binghamton’s physical play dominated the first half. After BU freshman back Colin Henry knocked down Bearcat freshman Ryan Walter, Walter sprinted the length of the field to get back in the play and proceeded to bowl over Jonsson while he was tied up with another defender.

Senior back Mark Wood of Binghamton was given a yellow card for taking out Dorman with a hard slide tackle. Soon after, freshman Andy Tiedt elbowed BU senior captain Dan Schultz to the ground, warranting a warning from the referees.

‘They were fighting hard and winning tackles,’ Jonsson said. ‘We talked about it [at halftime] before the coaches came in and we were like, ‘Guys ‘-‘- we have to start winning tackles. We have to send a message.’ And we did that in the second half.’

Two minutes into the second half, the Terriers had their best chance to that point. Freshman Ben Berube sent a cross from right to left to sophomore Aaron O’Neal, but a diving Stenta saved the shot.

While BU struggled to generate chances until Oh’s goal, so too did Binghamton. The Terrier defense, anchored by Davidsson, Schultz, Henry, Dorman and sophomore Matt Shea, prevented the Bearcats from recording a single shot on net in the second half. BU has allowed just three goals in its last nine games.

‘We just tried to do the same as we always do,’ Davidsson said. ‘We only have a three-man defense, so all the midfielders have to help and they’re doing an amazing job. I feel like most of it is communication. After our first loss in the conference [3-0 to the University at Albany], I think we got woken up and started communicating better.’

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