Conference battle on tap for Binghamton men’s lacrosse this weekend

Coming off a thrilling overtime victory against conference rival Stony Brook, the Binghamton men’s lacrosse team will aim to maintain momentum as it takes on Hartford this weekend at home.

File photo With just three regular-season America East matches remaining, Binghamton looks to improve its postseason chances with a win over Hartford this weekend.

Both the Bearcats and the Hawks stand at 5-5 overall and 1-1 in conference play. A Binghamton win would not only place the Bearcats one full game ahead of the Hawks in the conference standings, but also could tie BU with Albany for first place if the Great Danes lose their matchup with UMBC on Friday. It would also bring the Bearcats one win closer to clinching head coach Scott Nelson’s pre-season goal for the team — finishing above .500.

Nelson chalked it up to simply playing one game at a time.

“You know … that old coaching cliché,” he said. “This is, on paper, two evenly matched teams. So we just want to go out and get better every day.”

Against Stony Brook last weekend, the Bearcats scored a season-high 14 goals. They were led by redshirt junior attack Matt Springer, who notched a career-high six goals, and junior midfield Michael Antinozzi, who tallied two goals, including the game-winner. Junior attack Brandon Planck also had two goals for the Bearcats.

Springer is now just two points shy of 100 for his career. The only other player in Binghamton history with more than 100 points is teammate Tyler Perrelle, who currently sits at 107.

After a lopsided 24-11 loss to Albany, the Hawks used a last-second goal by senior midfield Garrett Dollard to defeat Dartmouth 8-7 on Tuesday. Six other Hawks scored during last week’s win, and junior goalie Frank Piechota saved 15 shots on goal.

An area of success for both Binghamton and Hartford all season has been the quality play of their goalies. The teams rank first and second in the conference in saves per game, with the Bearcats topping the chart with 12.90 and the Hawks nipping at their heels with 12.22. They are the only two teams in the conference averaging more than 12 saves per game.

The number of shots taken and shot selection, as always, will play a huge factor in the game.

“Not only shot selection, but also on the defensive side … to not give them good shots so we can make the saves,” Nelson said. “Defensively, we want to make sure we’re forcing them into bad shots, and on the offensive end, it’s very important to get good, close shots.”

One advantage the Bearcats may have over the Hawks lies in the number of penalties Hartford averages. Hartford suffers over four penalties per game (4.11) and is last in the conference in penalty-killing percentage (.588), while the Bearcats are 10th in the nation in man-up scoring (.429).

“Four penalties is a good amount in a game nowadays, so hopefully we can get a goal or two in man-up situation; that would be great,” Nelson said.

Binghamton has won eight of its 11 games against Hartford dating back to 2003, including seven of the last eight. The Bearcats are 4-0 against the Hawks at home, and Springer has scored four goals against the America East rival on two occasions — in 2010 and 2011.

Face off is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Saturday at the Bearcats Sports Complex.