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UMBC Men's Soccer Nipped, 1-0 by Top-Seeded Binghamton in America East Semis
Vestal, N.Y.—The UMBC men’s soccer team, playing without its two team captains, fell 1-0 in the America East semifinals to top-seeded Binghamton. The Retrievers end the campaign at 8-7-5, while Binghamton (14-5-0) will host Vermont in the title game on Saturday.
Junior back L.J. Pijnenburg did not travel with the team, as he suffered a hip injury in the season finale vs. New Hampshire and senior midfielder and Second Team All Conference performer Bryan Moffa (Baltimore, Md./Eastern Tech) could not play due to a stress fracture.
“It seems like we’ve been on the road so much and we’re pretty banged up, but I still expected to win,” head coach Pete Caringi said. “We didn’t play up to our capabilities in the first half, but we showed tremendous heart in the second half.”
The Retrievers got a pair of good chances early in the first half. In the 16th minutes, sophomore forward Andrew Gillis (Baltimore, Md./Perry Hall) collected a ball on the left side of the box and Binghamton netminder Jason Stenta was out of the net. However, Gillis’ hurried shot from 12 yards was stopped a yard short of the goal line by a retreating Bearcat defender. Two minutes later, freshman forward Levi Houapeu (Germantown, Md./Watkins Mill) broke in, but his shot was deflected away by another Bearcat defender.
The absence of starting Retriever left fullback L.J. Pijnenburg (Forest Lake, New Zealand) was evident as the Bearcats got on the board in the 22nd minute. Justin Leskow’s long cross from deep in the left corner was headed in by an onrushing Cody Germain on the right side from six yards out.
Junior midfielder Shondell Busby (Toronto, Ont.) had UMBC’s two best chances in the second half. His 30-yard strike in the 52nd minute just missed the upper right corner. Then, in the final minute of play, junior midfielder Kevin Gnatiko (Montgomery Village, Md./Watkins Mill) drove a ball into the box, which Busby attempted to settle. When he gathered the ball, his belated shot was deflected over the end line by a Bearcat defender. UMBC had a corner kick, but it was headed away by one of the nation’s top defenses.
Binghamton outshot UMBC, 16-9, and junior goalkeeper Steve King, playing with an injured shoulder, (Baltimore, Md./Archbishop Curley) made five saves. UMBC posted its ninth winning season in the past ten years and Moffa and senior back Philippe Bissohong (Silver Spring, Md./Springbrook) are the team’s lone seniors.