Wuilito Fernandes (10) is surrounded by Bearcats (Nikkos Pasarras (20), Zach Galluzzo (4), Miles Burbank (23), and Charlie Novoth (2)) as Ivan Blaskic (13) follows the play. (photo/George DeLuca)
The Binghamton Bearcats tied the UMass Lowell men’s soccer team with 27 seconds left in regulation, but the ensuing tug-of-war in double-overtime failed to produce a winner on Saturday at Cushing Field.
The River Hawks took the lead at 72:00, after Fernandes, positioned near the top center of the box, took an over the middle pass from freshman midfielder Dario Jovanovski and placed a chip shot between Bearcat goalie Alejandro Cubillo and the left post. It was the 7th goal of the season for Fernandes.
With less than a minute to play, the mood of the 221 soggy but vocal Alumni Night fans was celebratory until Bearcat midfielder Kevin Flesh redirected a header past junior goalkeeper Austin Kroll, into the left corner of the net. Back/midfielder Charlie Novoth notched his fourth assist of the season on the play with a perfectly executed pass from the far line. From there, the American East rivals battled to a stalemate.
The River Hawks are ranked 19th in the nation in the NSCAA Coaches rankings and remain unbeaten at 7-0-2. The Bearcats are now 5-2-4. Senior midfielder/forward Wuilito Fernandes, UMass Lowell’s lead striker with 7 goals and 14 overall points, is now tied for points with freshman forward Ivan Abramovic, who has four goals and a team-high six assists.
Coach Christian Figueroa expressed disappointment about the last minute score. “To give up a goal that late is difficult. We responded pretty well in the overtime and had some opportunities so it was unfortunate that we couldn’t walk out with the three points,” he said.
Fernandes and Abramovic were given a breather as the second half began. The River Hawks then raised their level of intensity when the starters returned about midway through the period.
Fernandes talked about the team strategy in this situation. “The guys were doing pretty good early in the second half. Stanley Alves (sophomore forward) and Alejandro Osorio (freshman forward) were doing a good job. Abra and I looked at the way things were going from the sidelines, so when we went back out there we were able to bring a different look and more intensity and bring more confidence to the guys,” he said.
Fernandez was double teamed for much of the first half, but still managed to lead the River Hawks with seven shots overall, followed by Abramovic, who had three shots including two shots on goal. Kroll had 4 saves between the posts.
Freshmen starters Joe Kellett (midfielder) and Ivan Blaskic (back), and sophomore midfielder/back Jakov Basic, played inspired soccer throughout the game setting up plays and playing aggressive defense.
The River Hawks continue their American East run agaist UMBC (4-2-3) next Saturday, October 8 at 2:30pm at Retriever Soccer Park in Baltimore, MD. They then return home to face #26 Vermont (9-2-1) on Wednesday, October 12 at 7pm at Cushing Field.
Figueroa isn’t taking the American East Conference lightly. “It’s a difficult conference. We know that every single game we’re going to be playing is going to be tough. The one on the road against UMBC is going to be difficult, so we have to make sure we prepare ourselves before we fly down there on Friday.”