The last two seasons for the men’s lacrosse team have been plagued by struggles. The 2019 preseason poll placed Binghamton as tied for last with Hartford, and they delivered a last-place performance, only winning two games. The two wins, however, were the last two games of the season, so the Bearcats are hoping to take that momentum into the 2020 season.

“I’m really optimistic because I like the energy that we have within our program,” said Binghamton head coach Kevin McKeown. “The guys are excited to come in every day.”

This year, the Bearcats were picked tied for last with Hartford once again in the preseason coach’s poll. The team lost its top two scorers, midfielder Joe Licata, ‘19, and attack Griffin Konen, ‘19, to graduation last year, but 14 new faces were added to this year’s roster.

“Certainly with freshmen, they come in at all different levels and IQs,” McKeown said. “Athletically, they come in at different spots, but they’re a good group of guys, and they’re working hard. We’re gonna see up to four, five, six of those guys on the field for us this weekend.”

The team also picked up two new staff members — Quinn Collison, assistant coach and Larry Kline, assistant coach and defensive coordinator. Collison spent four years playing for Bucknell University and served as a graduate assistant for Division III Stevenson University. Kline played goalie for Binghamton, previously serving as an assistant coach for BU in 2011 and at Stony Brook and UMass Lowell before returning.

Despite losing their top two scorers, the Bearcats’ next highest scorer, sophomore attack Kevin Winkoff, will return to the field. Last season, Winkoff scored 14 goals and had 22 points overall. Junior attack William Talbott-Shere, who had nine goals and 26 points in 2019, will also return.

On the defensive side, the Bearcats will return some of the top defenders in the America East (AE). Junior Tom Galgano was in the top 15 in the AE for both ground balls and caused turnovers last season, while sophomore Drew Furlong was 13th in ground balls per game and junior Kyle Tiernan was second in caused turnovers. With these three returning, the defensive line may be one of the team’s strengths.

Also returning to the defensive line is senior Dan Mottes, who was named the only team captain for the 2020 season.

“It was a tremendous honor when coach named me captain,” Mottes said. “I think Coach named me as captain for stuff I exhibited junior, sophomore, freshman years … I think the team has done a really good job of stepping up as leaders.”

Mottes has started 41 games in his career, and last year he picked up 14 ground balls and had nine caused turnovers. Mottes has also had a 4.0 GPA for the last five semesters and has a 3.98 GPA overall.

“[Mottes is] a senior, and he’s played in basically every game since his freshman year as a starter,” McKeown said. “He’s got a great IQ for the game. He’s got a great drive. I think most importantly he’s been able to connect with us as coaches and his teammates.”

This season, the Bearcats will have a challenging nonconference schedule, facing teams such as Marist and Syracuse to kick off the season.

“We lost to Marist my freshman year by one goal and it’s still kind of in the back of everybody’s heads,” Talbott-Shere said. “We’re making sure the young guys — the freshmen, sophomores — are going to start the season on the right foot, especially against Marist. It’d be a step in the right direction.”

Face-off against the Red Foxes is set for 1 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 8 at Tenney Stadium in Poughkeepsie, New York.