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Men’s lacrosse rallies, holds on for AE-opening win at Hartford

After a string of tough losses, the Binghamton men’s lacrosse team found its winning edge with opportune timing at Hartford on Saturday.

Coming back from a four-goal deficit, the Bearcats (3-5, 1-0 America East) rallied for a seven-goal run against the Hawks (4-6, 0-1 AE) to earn their first conference victory of 2014 by a score of 11-10.

“[The win] was very important,” BU head coach Scott Nelson said. “Especially considering only four teams make it to the [America East] tournament, we came through nicely.”

This game marks the squad’s first win in a conference opener since 2011, which may explain why the play of the Bearcat veterans was key to their victory.

“We were asking for great senior leadership,” Nelson said. “They wanted a conference victory, and they got it.”

High-flying seniors Matt Springer and Mike Antinozzi combined for seven points in the game, as Springer put up his fourth hat trick of the season. Also coming through for the Binghamton offense was junior attack Tucker Nelson. In response to being held goalless against Air Force last week, Nelson netted a pair of goals and three assists in his effort against the Hawks.

Binghamton’s defense also rose to the occasion. After recording three goals early, Kevin O’Shea — Hartford’s goal leader and third leading point scorer in the America East — was held scoreless in the final 43 minutes of play.

At the start of the fourth quarter with BU holding a 10-7 lead, the Bearcat defense and junior goalkeeper Max Schefler held strong as the Hawks earned three man-up opportunities. Schefler would go on to allow only three goals in the final quarter to record the win as Hartford attacked the net with 17 shots in a last-stand attempt at victory.

“We never looked worried,” Nelson said of his team’s performance. “We stayed the course, and we’re all very proud.”

When asked about the magic that his squad has seen on the road — being 3-0 in away matchups — the BU coach attributed the Bearcats’ success to a competitive schedule at home.

“We’ve played tough teams at home, and we know how to come out ready,” Nelson said. “Those three tough losses toughened us up. We’ve been resilient in losses and learned how to get ahead.”

The Bearcats also learned how to close. Each of their last five matches have been decided by two or fewer goals. This was only their second victory in that span.

With their three-game losing streak now over, the Bearcats are scheduled to face Syracuse in their next contest.

Despite sporting a 5-3 record and allowing 117 goals over eight games, the Orange is currently ranked seventh in the latest Inside Lacrosse Poll. The Bearcats are 0-2 against ranked opponents this season.

The game will be the fourth matchup between the two teams, as Binghamton seeks its first victory over the storied Orange program.

Binghamton and Syracuse will faceoff at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse.