VESTAL, N.Y. (WIVT/WBGH) – The Binghamton University Women’s Soccer team returns to the field to open up their 2023 season on Thursday.

The Bearcats enter the year after losing in penalty kicks in the America East championship game last year, a season they won the regular season title.

With many returners to the roster in 2023, the Bearcats were ranked as the favorites to win the conference in the America East preseason poll.

After losing in the finals last year, the team is motivated to win a championship this season.

“Watching the finals on our home turf was obviously devastating,” Graduate Student Grace Vittoria said. “Especially being back, I’m just excited and I want to be able to get that ring, it’s always been a goal since I’ve been here.”

The Bearcats enter the season ranked number 1 in the America East preseason poll, a ranking that comes with some pressure.

“We like the pressure, it’s a privilege to have that, to have that target on our backs,” Head Coach Neel Bhattacharjee said. “But we know we got to take another step. So, really what we’re trying to do is find ways where we can make small, little, incremental steps, changes here and there.”

The Bearcats chase for a title begins with non-conference play beginning tomorrow before opening up America East play on September 17th against New Hampshire.