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Men’s lacrosse slips late for third straight loss

The Binghamton men’s lacrosse team is making a habit of slipping up right before the final whistle.

Jaime Soto/Contributing Writer Senior midfielder Mike Antinozzi tallied a team-high three goals in a loss to Air Force on Sunday.

Air Force scored two goals in the last three minutes to beat the Bearcats (2-5), 10-8, at the Bearcats Sports Complex on Sunday. Binghamton has lost each of its five matches at home, the last three having been decided in the waning minutes.

According to BU head coach Scott Nelson, preparation is not the problem facing the struggling Bearcats, whose four March games have been decided by an average of 1.25 goals.

“[The Falcons] played the way we thought they would,” Nelson said. “We have a great group of tough guys — but we have to learn how to close out games.”

Following the suit of the last four games, BU’s contest with Air Force (5-3) was streaky. A calculated pass game by the Falcons allowed senior attack Mike Crampton to net the first goal just more than five minutes after opening faceoff. Fewer than two minutes later, the Bearcats responded when both freshman midfielder Tyler Deluca and senior midfielder Michael Antinozzi found the back of the net.

While both Crampton and Antinozzi recorded hat tricks by the end of the first half, a slew of problems and faceoff violations plagued the Bearcats. Air Force, which outshot Binghamton by 14, carried a 6-4 lead into the break.

After a shaky start to the second half, senior attack Matt Springer tallied his first goal of the game with just fewer than 11 minutes to go in the third quarter. The Falcons netted one more goal before BU went on to score the final three of the third, tying the game up at eight heading into the final 15 minutes.

After nearly 13 minutes of a gritty fourth quarter, the game looked destined for overtime. The Falcons had failed to take advantage of a late man-up opportunity, both goalkeepers were focused and, at points, the shots seemed wild.

That perception shattered at the 2:38 mark, when Crampton assisted senior attack Tommy McKee’s goal to put Air Force up, 9-8.

Losing the ensuing faceoff, the Bearcats were in a state of urgency, as it looked like the Falcons planned to pass the seconds off the clock. But then Crampton scored his fourth and final goal of the game with just more than one minute left, leaving the score at 10-8.

Winless at home entering April, the Bearcats will look to take the lessons of March with them as they begin to navigate the America East. Up next for BU is a contest at Hartford. The Hawks (4-4), coming off a six-goal loss to UMass Lowell, will be the Bearcats’ first conference opponent of the season.

Binghamton will look to return home next month with a new mindset.

“We’ve got a lot of things to work on. We play a great schedule, but the guys are really resilient,” Nelson said. “They’ll bounce right back.”

Binghamton is set to square off against Hartford at 2 p.m. Saturday at Al-Marzook Field in West Hartford, Conn.