In its season opener at the Carrier Dome, the Binghamton women’s lacrosse teams fell to No. 15 Syracuse. The Bearcats (0-1) were overwhelmed by the Orange (2-0) by a score of 15-5.
Being the first game of their season and facing off against a power conference opponent, the Bearcats came out cold and began the game down 9-0, with junior attacker Lindsey Stephen scoring Binghamton’s first goal of the season at the end of the first half.
In the second period, BU scored the last four goals of the game, including a man-up goal from senior attacker Olivia Batista. Batista, a senior captain, missed last season due to injury, but stands to play a big role in Binghamton’s attack this season.
“I think we were able to get out some of those first-game jitters where Syracuse had had a competition prior to ours,” BU head coach Stephanie Allen said. “Obviously a strong [Atlantic Coast Conference] competitor and we needed a bit of time to work out some of those early kinks.”
Binghamton competed well on draw controls, taking nine to Syracuse’s 12, but the lack of ball control showed as Syracuse put 28 shots on goal to BU’s eight. Binghamton struggled to hold back Syracuse’s senior attacker Nicole Levy, who recorded a hat trick and an assist in the game.
Time of possession was a huge issue for the Bearcats, as they played very little offense throughout the night. Syracuse’s 32 ground balls to Binghamton’s 18 was a problem, as was the gap in efficiency on the defensive side of the ball. Binghamton was only 12-19 on clears compared to 17-19 for the Orange.
“We definitely need to work on lengthening our offensive possessions and decision making,” Allen said. “It comes back to just handling pressure and making better choices with the ball.”
Junior goalie Taylor Passuello put up a strong performance for the Bearcats despite facing a potent Syracuse offense. She recorded a career-high 13 saves on the night, anchoring the defense.
There were bright spots for the future of the Bearcats toward the end of the game. Freshmen midfielders Emily Masera and Sofia Afkham both netted their first career goals.
“I think Emily Masera and Sofia Afkham are two players that we expect to continue to gain confidence and take on bigger roles throughout the season,” Allen said. “I think across the board we have a number of individuals — even in the sophomore class — that will get some big minutes this year.”
This game was particularly notable for two players on opposing teams in the matchup, as Binghamton sophomore defender Natasha Rahal was facing off against her sister, Syracuse redshirt junior midfielder Mary Rahal.
Following the strongest season in school history, the Bearcats hope to continue to make strides this year. The team has several important nonconference matchups remaining on its schedule, including Ohio State and Cornell.
“We want to be over .500 when we walk off that field for the last time this season,” Allen said. “It’s about taking each day and each game as it comes, but we’ve set our sights on the America East again and putting ourselves in a position to win a title.”
Binghamton next plays in its home opener against Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference opponent Niagara. BU hopes to improve upon some of the mistakes that plagued it against Syracuse in a more balanced matchup.
“Yesterday was a learning opportunity for us, and I think there were some really good moments out there on both sides of the ball,” Allen said. “Now it’s just about taking what we learned from yesterday and implementing it into our game plan moving forward.”
Faceoff against the Purple Eagles is set for 1 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 17 from the Bearcats Sports Complex in Vestal, NY.