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Men’s lacrosse settles for two seed after falling to Great Danes

In the America East men’s lacrosse championship picture, the decision between the top two seeds might have been a bit greater than originally expected.

That is, if a 14-goal differential can be considered “a bit.”

Binghamton (7-7, 4-1 AE) made the trip to Albany on Saturday seeking to preserve an untainted conference record and secure the top seed entering the tournament. But a 21-7 blowout by the Great Danes, who carry the nation’s No. 15 offense, shattered the Bearcats’ dreams and sent them to the two slot. And with this being the final regular season contest for BU before Thursday’s conference tournament, this matchup doubled as a wake-up call.

“It’s all about how we react to it,” BU head coach Scott Nelson said of the loss. “We’ve got to come out and play [on Thursday].”

Led by Lyle, Ty and Miles Thompson, the Great Danes (9-5, 5-0 AE) struck early and often against the Bearcats, netting the first four goals of the game. Senior attack Michael Antinozzi tried to stop the bleeding for the Bearcats with a goal late in the first quarter, but Albany proved to be too much for BU to handle, jumping to a 13-2 lead by halftime.

“I was surprised by their team speed up the middle,” Nelson said of Albany’s offense. “They’re a fast and great attack, and they beat us.”

The second half featured more offensive opportunities for the Bearcats, with Antinozzi scoring two additional goals for BU. But the Bearcats’ defense continued to struggle against Albany, with three Binghamton keepers combining for just two stopped shots.

Despite finishing their regular season with a loss, the Bearcats are still in a favorable position for the tournament. Binghamton will face third-seeded UMBC in its first playoff appearance since 2004. Having already edged out the Retrievers, 13-7, on April 6, the Bearcats hope to recreate that result in the post-season.

“We have to keep doing what we do well,” Nelson said on the potential rematch. “We just have to play our game.”

Binghamton will be the only team at the tournament lacking any players with prior collegiate playoff experience, but the Bearcats will have a team of seasoned veterans. This weekend will provide the last shot for BU’s all-time leading scorer, Matt Springer, as well as 11 other seniors to take an America East title. With a successful 4-1 conference record in the books for 2014, Nelson will look to his team’s seniors to lead the way.

“We have a great bunch of seniors,” Nelson said. “So we have to bounce back. I know we will.”

Binghamton will face UMBC in the first round of the tournament on Thursday. First face-off is set for 5 p.m. at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium in Stony Brook.