O’Donnell’s career day leads men’s lacrosse to win over Sacred Heart

Paul O’Donnell drew first blood on Sunday to put the Binghamton men’s lacrosse team up, and scored twice more in the closing two minutes of the first quarter for his first career hat trick.

Franz Lino/Staff Photographer Redshirt senior attackman Matt Springer picked up right where he left off in last year’s record-setting 36-goal campaign, scoring twice in Binghamton’s season-opening victory over Sacred Heart.

But O’Donnell was just beginning his afternoon.

The junior attackman, who scored five times against Sacred Heart, matched his career goal total and led the Bearcats to an 8-6 victory.

“I think he’s had a great year since the first day in the fall,” Binghamton head coach Scott Nelson said. “He’s worked really hard, he’s practiced great and so from that standpoint, we weren’t surprised.”

BU seized control in the first half with some aggressive offensive play, and got on the board first when Sacred Heart allowed an unassisted, man-up goal from O’Donnell at 12:37. Redshirt senior attackman Matt Springer, who has 96 career goals, followed suit with a score of his own to double the lead.

After Sacred Heart cut the deficit in half, O’Donnell tallied his second score of the game with 1:54 left in the first. Twenty-five seconds later, O’Donnell struck again for his third man-up goal and first career hat trick. The Bearcats would carry the 4-1 lead into the locker room after outshooting Sacred Heart, 25-8, in the first half.

Considering the lopsided shot differential, Nelson thought his team could have gotten more in the first.

“I think offensively, we really dominated the first half and only had four goals to show for it, so that was a little disappointing,” Nelson said.

“I think we’re going to play better on the offensive end as the year goes on,” Nelson added.

Sacred Heart took advantage, tallying two goals in the opening 8:03 of the third quarter to get within a single score. Later in the third, junior attackman Tucker Nelson, who had 27 assists in 2013, set up O’Donnell for his fourth goal. But Sacred Heart senior attackman Cody Marquis answered 1:11 later with his second goal of the game to pull Sacred Heart back to within one, 5-4.

After senior midfielder Michael Antinozzi found Springer for his second score, Sacred Heart found the back of the net to make the score 6-5 heading into the final quarter.

Sacred Heart senior attackman Mike Mawdsley knotted the score at six just more than three minutes into the fourth, but O’Donnell was able to put an exclamation point on his career game with the go-ahead score a few minutes later that would prove to be the game-winner. Sophomore attackman Mitchell Rick put the game on ice with a man-up goal with 4:40 remaining.

In net, redshirt junior goalie Max Schefler made seven saves to earn his sixth career win. He was aided by a BU defense that forced 12 turnovers and won the ground ball battle 29-22.

“Letting them get back in it in the third quarter was frustrating, but overall I thought it was a great game because they tied it up at six and our guys kind of got together after that, got the last two goals and we shut them out,” Nelson said. “I was really impressed with the defense.”

Binghamton will have a week to rest and practice before its home opener against Siena on Feb. 22.

After losing to Syracuse to begin its 2014 campaign, the Saints defeated Hobart 12-7 on Sunday to move to 1-1.

“I think Siena’s a very, very good team offensively,” Nelson said. “They struggled against Syracuse in the Carrier Dome, and people were probably saying they weren’t very good and then they took it to Hobart. They’re well-coached, they’re in great shape, they can shoot the ball. That’s going to be a tough one.”

Action from the Events Center is set to begin at noon.