The conditions weren’t ideal, but the Binghamton University women’s lacrosse team topped Canisius College 11-9 on Friday at the Demske Sports Complex in Buffalo.
With the victory, the Bearcats (2-2) have now won consecutive games for the first time since 2006.
“It was very blistery,” BU head coach Tony Zostant said. “So given the weather conditions, I thought our team came out very strong, got off to a great start and we played both sides of the field very, very well both offensively and defensively.”
Junior attack Kimberly McGeever spearheaded the Binghamton offense with three goals and four assists. Freshman goalie Kara Pafumi had a season-high 10 saves and spoiled a last-ditch attempt by Canisius (2-2) to tie the game at the end of regulation.
“[They] did a fabulous job for us today,” Zostant said. ”Kim really orchestrated our offense well after we began using [senior] Lis Zuern as a decoy, and Kara made some huge stops on their free-position attempts.”
BU freshman Renee Kiviat scored the first goal of the game, and McGeever scored twice to put the Bearcats up 4-1 in the opening minutes of the first half. Canisius, though, responded with timely goals to stay within a respectable distance and close the deficit to 4-3. After junior midfielder Kristen Stone, who set a school record with seven goals against Marist College on Wednesday, netted her 11th goal of the season to extend the Bearcats’ lead to 6-3, Canisius answered with a score of its own. BU led 6-4 until BU senior Brittany Stufano scored twice to put the Bearcats up, 8-4, at halftime.
Zostant said he was pleased to see his team play the role of frontrunner in Friday’s matchup in contrast to the previous three games in which the Bearcats had trailed from the start.
“That’s something we have been working on all week and something that was a goal of ours going into [the Marist] game,” Zostant said. “It is a lot easier playing when you’re ahead than from playing behind. It gave us a lot of energy, and we were always ahead in the game.”
In the second period, Binghamton senior defender Lauren Lukefahr recorded her first goal of the season to conclude a 3-0 run that extended the Bearcats’ advantage to 9-4. BU acquired its biggest lead of the game (11-5) with over 16 minutes left, but the Golden Griffins finished on a 4-0 surge.
The Golden Griffins closed the deficit to two in the closing seconds of regulation, but BU escaped with the victory thanks to Pafumi’s clutch saves in net.
Though Canisius outshot the Bearcats 21-16, the resurgence of the Golden Griffins was also aided by 22 Binghamton turnovers.
Binghamton shared the wealth on offense as six different players scored. Along with McGeever’s three goals, Kiviat, Stufano and Stone had two goals apiece. Lukefahr and senior Allie Sabitus each scored once, while junior midfielder Casey Bulman performed well on defense, tallying three caused turnovers.
For her performances against both Marist and Canisius last week, Stone earned America East Player of the Week honors for the first time of her career.
The Bearcats are set to conclude their three-game road trip against Lehigh at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday at Lehigh University. The meeting will be the first between the Bearcats and the Mountain Hawks since 2005.
“They are a very competitive team,” Zostant said. “All of the teams we scheduled non-conference are very challenging teams, so we are getting ready for them. We have two more practices before we go down and play them. We are going to get our team prepared and focused for that game. It is going to be another battle for us, but we are going to get ready to step up to the challenge.”