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Women’s lacrosse can’t handle Cornell’s pressure in blowout loss

The Binghamton women’s lacrosse team suffered a 15-4 loss to Cornell on Tuesday night, interrupting the dominant stretch that comprised the best start in program history.

Jaime Soto/Contributing Photographer Junior midfielder Renee Kiviat was one of four Bearcats to contribute a goal in Binghamton’s 15-4 loss on Tuesday.

Cornell (4-1) established its dominance early at the Bearcats Sports Complex. Binghamton (4-2) found itself on the wrong end of an 8-0 run that stretched through the game’s opening 20 minutes.

Constant defensive pressure and double teams in the Bearcats’ offensive zone fueled Cornell’s potency, keeping Binghamton uncomfortable in its offensive sets. The Big Red capitalized on Binghamton’s season-high 23 turnovers, which led to multiple fast-break chances.

“[Double teams] are something we practice, and it’s something we should have been better prepared for,” BU head coach Stephanie Allen said. “We faced [double teams] with a little bit of fear today.”

BU did not score its first goal until the 9:49 mark in the half on a free position shot from freshman midfielder Callon Williams. Junior midfielder Renee Kiviat tallied the only other BU goal before halftime, making the score 10-2 heading into the locker room.

“We knew what type of program we were facing,” Allen said of the game’s level of competition. “We knew they would be fast and athletic.”

Any chance of a second-half comeback was squashed right after halftime, when Cornell netted three consecutive goals, increasing the margin to nine. BU played the Big Red even from there but ultimately fell, 15-4 — a sobering defeat for a team that rode two consecutive dominant victories into the match.

“Today was a complete mental lack of discipline on both ends,” Allen said. “We struggled to play within our systems. You can’t get shots on goal if you don’t have the ball on your stick.”

Each of BU’s goals was delivered from four different scorers — Williams, Kiviat, sophomore midfielder Allie Rodgers and freshman attack Brianne Arthur. Arthur, the reigning America East Rookie of the Week, couldn’t find her rhythm Tuesday night. Cornell sent double teams to force the freshman into mistake after mistake. She finished with six turnovers on the night.

Sophomore goalie Erin McNulty struggled as well. Coming off of an excellent game against St. Bonaventure last week, McNulty was removed just 12 minutes into the game after allowing six goals on eight Cornell shots. Junior Kara Pafumi entered as her replacement and gave up nine goals on 15 shot attempts.

“We needed to give Cornell a different look out there. Obviously changing goalkeepers does that,” Allen said. “I thought [Pafumi] did well coming up with quality saves. She kept us in the game saving a couple of point blank shots.”

Ultimately, the lackluster performance served as a wake-up call for Allen’s group. Though the team has kicked off the season in record-setting fashion, entering Tuesday with a program-best 4-1 start, the game quickly turned into a reminder of how much room the team still has to improve.

“There is a lot of building to be done,” Allen said. “It’s exciting to see [the team] off to such a great start, but we need games like this sometimes to bring us back to reality and show us we still have a lot of work to do.”

Binghamton will have to find its groove away from home now, as four of the team’s next five games are on the road. BU’s next opponent is three-time defending MAAC champion Canisius.

The first face-off is scheduled for 1 p.m. Monday at Demske Sports Complex in Buffalo.