Vestal (WBNG BINGHAMTON) Sophomore midfielder Katie O’Neill scored twice and Binghamton women’s soccer (1-3) erupted for five goals in a 5-0 win over visiting Iona (2-2) Sunday afternoon from the Bearcats Sports Complex.
After being limited to one combined goal over the team’s first three games, BU exploded for its highest goal output in 10 years.
“This was huge for us today,” head coach Sarah McClellan said. “I thought the team played well - not great by any means - but we really needed the win and our players worked hard and made it happen. I thought the team was more ready and alert on the field today. It’s taken a while for us to gel and today we started to see some of those things come together. This was a really big step for us.”
Freshman forward Jocelyn Acor created the first goal in the 23rd minute. Linemate Jacque Rice won a ball on the right side and sent Acor down the wing. The speedy freshman dribbled inside the box toward the endline and sent a hard cross to the front of the goal where a Gaels defender mistakenly knocked it into the goal on a clear attempt.
Just 6:36 later, O’Neill scored her first collegiate goal on a point-blank header off a corner kick. Junior midfielder Rebecca Raber sent a perfect corner to the far post, where O’Neill finished up a late run to the post and had an easy header into the back netting for a 2-0 lead.
O’Neill added her second goal in the 40th minute by driving to the net. Senior midfielder Emily Nuss sent a 30-yard free kick around the wall and toward the left corner. Iona keeper Lauren Ferris dove to make the initial stop but O’Neill was there to tap in the rebound from three yards away.
“Katie (O’Neill) is capable of being a dominant player every single day,” McClellan said. “She really “amped” it up this week and dominated in training and you can expect that if a player dominates in training ... that’s the type of preparation you need to be to do it game time and she certainly did that today.”
Up 3-0 at half, BU tacked on two more goals in a 3:40 span midway through the second period to finish the scoring.
Acor got her first collegiate goal in the 72nd minute. Rice sent a cross into the middle from the right side, where it was misplayed by a Gaels defender. Acor tracked down the loose ball on the left side of the box and sent a 12-yard left-footed shot into the top right corner.
Rice benefited from her hard work and nose for the goal just 3:40 later. Freshman midfielder Valerie McNamara sent a ball in from the right and after a failed clear by Iona, Rice spun and knocked in a loose ball for her first collegiate tally.
Binghamton owned an 18-7 shots advantage.
Senior Gaby Gold (1 save in first half) and freshman Katie Hatziyianis (2 saves in second half) split the shutout.
The Bearcats next host Siena at 7 p.m. on Friday.
(Courtesy: Binghamton University)