In its worst start to the season since its second Division I campaign in 2003, the Binghamton women’s lacrosse team dropped its ninth consecutive game on Saturday. After failing to triumph throughout nonconference play, the Bearcats (0-9, 0-1 AE) dropped their conference opener 12-10 against New Hampshire.
“We improved in some areas of our game that we’ve struggled in, in the last few competitions,” said BU head coach Stephanie Allen. “We certainly had a better second half, and not having that lull that we’ve had in previous games. Overall, I think there was a lot of heart out there on the field, and some good execution on both sides of the ball.”
After the Wildcats (6-3, 1-0 America East) scored the first goal of the game, senior attack Olivia Batista tied the game at one for the Bearcats. The teams exchanged goals in a well-contested period.
All throughout the season, BU has struggled with defensive breakdowns in critical moments, and a similar situation unfolded at the end of the first half. Sophomore midfielder Alyssa Sanchez capitalized on a free position to tie the game at six with just 31 seconds remaining. Unfortunately for the Bearcats, UNH captured the ensuing draw control and ran right down the field, scoring with just five seconds remaining in the half to take the lead into the locker room.
Binghamton played competitively throughout the entire second half, including a sequence in which Batista, freshman attack Emily Masera and junior midfielder Amelia Biancardi scored three consecutive goals, giving BU a 9-8 lead. Biancardi’s goal was her third of the game, marking her second hat trick in three games. Scoring a combined 10 goals in her last three games, Biancardi has played outstandingly as of late for Binghamton. Her 13 goals and 16 points lead the team, and she has already set single-season career highs in both categories.
“For her, it’s really just finding her niche and finding her strengths,” Allen said. “She’s done very well in the draw control area for us and giving us the 50-50 balls that we’re looking for, and then certainly getting some good offense generated. She’s really been focused on our shot lately, just dialing in proper technique and making sure she’s taking quality looks on cage.”
After Binghamton’s three-goal run ended, New Hampshire scored four of the game’s final five goals, earning a hard-fought 12-10 victory. Despite its overall record and the end result of the game, Binghamton competed well for a full 60 minutes in a matchup against a talented Wildcats team.
In addition to Biancardi, junior midfielder Alissa Franze continued her successful junior season on Saturday, contributing two goals and extending her scoring streak to four consecutive games. After coming off the bench last season, Franze is among several new faces to have success stepping into starting roles on the team this year.
“We’ve got a number of sophomores and juniors out there that are really being expected to play big roles for us,” Allen said. “I think they have been growing and developing their confidence each and every game, but it is a process. I think we’ve made some big gains over the last two weeks — maybe the results and scores don’t indicate that, but just in what we see from them confidence-wise and development-wise, it’s certainly been some good progress.”
Other new starters this season include Sanchez, classmate midfielder Kelly Quinn and sophomore defender Sam Fama, all players who have performed well after having limited playing time last season.
As conference play is now underway around the America East, the stakes are elevated for the Bearcats in a competitive conference.
“It’s a whole new season when we hit conference [play], but there is a lot of heightened pressure in each and every game,” Allen said. “We don’t get to play each team twice, we just play them once. There’s no do-overs.”
Stony Brook and Albany are strongly favored to take the top two spots in this year’s conference tournament, with Hartford still developing its new program. Thus, Binghamton is left competing with New Hampshire, Vermont, UMBC and UMass Lowell for the remaining two berths. After losing to UNH, the Bearcats will have to convert their recent strong efforts into wins in the near future in order to return to the conference tournament.
With a week to prepare for its next AE opponent, the team has the opportunity to make the necessary adjustments in a nonconference matchup against upstate rival Cornell Wednesday night.
“It came down to the execution on the little things today that we just fell short in,” Allen said. “It’s something for us to make sure that we tackle throughout the week in practice and in our game against Cornell so that when we stop out onto the field against Albany, we’ve cleaned up some of those small errors.”
First draw control against Cornell is set for 5 p.m. from Schoellkopf Field in Ithaca, New York.