Eliminated from postseason contention, the Binghamton University men’s lacrosse team had only one thing left to play for in its final game of the season — the team’s six seniors.
The Bearcats didn’t just send their seniors off with a dominating win, they showed why the program may have a tremendously bright future.
The Bearcats (4-9, 1-4 America East) throttled playoff-bound University of Maryland, Baltimore County (5-7, 3-2 AE) by a score of 15-8 at the Bearcats Sports Complex on Saturday. Binghamton went out with a bang on Senior Day, playing by far its best match of the year.
Head coach Scott Nelson said he saw that his team remained highly motivated, despite its struggles.
“One of the things that you get with a Division I athlete is that every game is really important,” he said. “That’s what a lot of people don’t understand. It was a very important night for the guys. They wanted to play well, they love to play. All week, we had a good week of practice. Even though league-wise we didn’t have anything to play for, we still had a lot to play for. We had the seniors to play for, and the kids really wanted a win.”
The home team set the pace early as it jumped out to a 4-2 first-period lead. While the gap was only two goals, the period saw senior goalie Jordan Marra stop a whopping six shots to control the pace. The Bearcat offense then exploded for six goals in the second period in what proved to be the game-winning stretch.
“It was really neat to see how well they did,” Nelson said. “We scored 15 goals, and 12 of them were assisted. In the first quarter Jordan Marra had six saves to really keep the score what it was and let us build a little bit of a lead, and the offense took over from there. I think they had a lot to play for, in a way, because they wanted to go out with a win for some great seniors.”
Sophomore attack Brandon Planck set a career high with seven points (five goals, two assists) to lead the Bearcats. Sophomore midfielder Mike Antinozzi tallied four goals and two assists, freshman midfielder J.T. Hauck reeled off three goals and an assist and junior midfielder Tyler Perrelle scored two goals and three assists.
Antinozzi finishes the year as the Bearcats’ top scorer with 32 goals and 14 assists, good for third in the conference in both goals and overall points. He also led the conference in shots taken by a healthy margin, tallying 131 this season. Perrelle finished with 25 goals and a team-leading 17 assists, finishing fifth in the America East in points.
Other notable Bearcats in the final conference statistics include Marra, who finished with the second-best goals against average at 10.58, and senior face-off specialist Chris Cook, who achieved the best face-off win percentage in the league at 55.9 percent. Cook won a whopping 18 of 25 faceoffs against UMBC.
The win marked the final game for the Bearcats seniors, which included Marra, Cook, defender Ryan Button, defender Ben Waldron, attack John Clark and midfielder Nick Marshall.
“They were all very solid citizens, very solid students,” Nelson said of the seniors. “You look at the GPAs of the guys, and it’s unbelievable … All the guys are doing very, very well. The guys are really great guys … that’s what makes this a great program.
Nelson now looks forward to next year and hopes to get a better stock of talent in the coming years to complement the strong intangibles that the program possesses.
“First thing is that we have great students and great kids, and now we have to up the athletic level a little bit,” he said. “We have to get a little more depth … We have to play a little better defense; the only way we can do that is to control the ball a little more with a better attack. Our goalie play was good, but it has to be better, it has to be more consistent in the game.”
While the talent level may be a bit less than satisfactory for Nelson’s aspirations of vaulting the program into the national top 20, he is supremely confident that they are moving in the right direction.
“I think we have a lot of areas to improve on, but we have some guys coming back,” he said. “My 13-year-old mentioned to me early Sunday morning that every single player who scored a goal last night is coming back next year, and I think that’s pretty neat … we’ve got something to build on there, and we can’t wait to get started.”