As the snow and rain poured down on the Bearcats Sports Complex, the gloomy weather set the tone for what was a lifeless finish to the 2019 season for the Binghamton women’s lacrosse team. The Bearcats were blown out by Vermont, losing 23-3. Despite being eliminated from playoff contention last Friday after falling to Stony Brook, BU (2-15, 2-5 America East) played a competitive game against Canisius midweek, but it appeared that there was nothing left in the tank for the team on Saturday afternoon.
“We had some good practices post-Canisius, and really felt like we came into today prepared,” BU head coach Stephanie Allen said. “For us, it’s tough to be playing without the game having a lot of meaning, but I think we just stepped out on the field flat today and lacked execution, but that certainly was not the case in our training the last two days.”
Losing by 20 goals is abnormal for Binghamton, and has not happened since the team’s first year as a Division I program in 2002. The 2002 team lost by 20 or more goals five times.
Despite a strong start in the nonconference season, the Catamounts (8-7, 2-5 AE) had faltered as of late, dropping six consecutive contests, including five AE matchups, entering the game. Vermont’s 23 goals match the highest single-game total in school history.
Meanwhile, the Bearcats had started to hit their stride recently, rigorously defeating UMass Lowell, a team that overthrew Vermont and Hartford.
“It was just compounding mistakes today, all of the little things really building up,” Allen said. “For us, [it was] the ground balls, the draw controls, taking care of things on the offensive end and defensively, like understanding the game plan. It wasn’t one thing or another out there today — it was really just compounding mistakes all over the field.”
Vermont dominated all facets of the game, but its dominance on draw controls sealed the blowout victory, holding a 20-7 advantage in the final statistics. This allowed the Catamounts to jump out to a 7-0 lead before senior attack Olivia Batista was able to put Binghamton on the board in the 13th minute. The only other scorer in the game for BU was senior midfielder Rebecca Golderman, who scored near the end of both halves.
While the lopsided defeat in the season finale and a 2-15 record will rest in the minds of the Bearcats, it is important to look back at how things have gone for Binghamton this season.
With the loss to Canisius last week, Binghamton finished its nonconference slate winless for only the second time in school history and the first time since 2003. The team was competitive in the majority of its matchups, but struggled to close out games. Most notably, the Bearcats squandered late leads in the first week of the season against Niagara and Colgate and later in the season against Lafayette. While several games were within reach, there were no particularly easy matchups on the schedule.
There were similarities in scheduling from last season, as seven nonconference matchups from this year were the same as last year. Changes in 2019 consisted of playing Atlantic Coast Conference member Syracuse instead of ACC opponent Boston College, and matchups against Dartmouth and Harvard as opposed to Fresno State in 2018. Last season was the most successful in school history, with an experienced team and the program’s strongest class of seniors ever, but that team still finished with 3-5 record in the nonconference season.
“You’ve gotta play the best to beat the best,” Allen said. “For us, if we kinda back off of our scheduling and prepare with easier or lower-ranked opponents, I don’t know [if] that truly prepares us for what we’re gonna face in conference. We’ve got a tremendously strong conference with a lot of parity, [but] this year was just not our year. But I think if we came in not prepared as far as the level of opponent, we would’ve seen probably even worse results.”
All that matters in the postseason race is the team’s record against AE opponents, but Binghamton entered conference play winless and with little momentum. This was most evident in the team’s loss to UMBC, in which BU surrendered a two-goal lead with three minutes remaining and fell in overtime. If the Bearcats had defeated UMBC, they would have been able to reach the AE postseason with a win over Vermont.
In spite of a difficult 2019 season, there were several sophomores and juniors that established themselves as starters throughout the season, and Allen has optimism about her team heading into the offseason as the team looks to return to the postseason next year.
“I think there’s a lot of brightness to our future,” Allen said. “We’re returning a number of players. We’re sad to obviously lose this senior class and wish we had them sticking around a little bit longer, but I think we’re excited about what is returning.”