With Binghamton women’s lacrosse team trailing 1-0 in its season opener against the UMass Lowell River Hawks, freshman midfielder Madison Murphy scored three unanswered goals to begin her collegiate career. In Binghamton’s first game in nearly a year, the team led for the majority of its victory on Saturday afternoon. The Bearcats (1-0, 1-0 America East) earned an 11-8 win over UMass Lowell (1-2, 0-1 AE).

“I saw a lot of resilience today,” said Binghamton head coach Stephanie Allen. “Coming out, it was a little bit cold in terms of the weather and the last time we played lacrosse. I was really proud of our girls for getting into a groove and figuring it out. Offensively, it took a little bit longer than we wanted to put the ball in the back of the net, but I was really proud of their ability to dig deep and this was a complete team ‘W’ today.”

Murphy’s strong start gave Binghamton an offensive advantage that carried the team throughout the first half.

“[Murphy] is someone we were really trying to pump up the last couple of days, and she’s proven herself in her ability to earn that starting position,” Allen said. “She didn’t get a typical fall ball season where freshmen can get the jitters out, so apparently she didn’t need it. She stepped out there, got the first hat trick of her career and I couldn’t be more proud of her performance today.”

The Bearcats further capitalized off of UMass Lowell’s mistakes, as Binghamton had six free position shots in the first, as opposed to the River Hawks’ zero. One of Murphy’s goals came off a free position shot, and junior attack Emily Masera added another goal off a free position to give Binghamton a three-goal 20 minutes into the game. Two unanswered goals from the River Hawks resulted in a 5-4 halftime lead for Binghamton.

Masera scored her second goal of the game early in the second half, but the River Hawks responded to tie the game in the ensuing minutes. However, junior midfielder Sofia Afkham and sophomore midfielder Jamie Golderman combined to dominate the draw controls, as they went 8-11 on the circle during the second frame.

“We went back to what we practiced all weekend,” Allen said. “[Afkham] did a tremendous job today in putting the ball where we wanted it to go and giving us opportunities to compete on the circle. Props to those girls that were a part of the draw crew … for digging deep and taking some hard hits in there, but they did what they needed to come up with the possessions.”

With seven minutes remaining in the game, senior midfielder Kelly Quinn scored a key goal to give Binghamton a 10-8 lead. After suffering a season-ending injury in the third game of Binghamton’s 2020 season, she made her return to the field on Saturday and was able to make it onto the score sheet despite playing limited minutes. Senior attack Paige Volkmann scored her second goal of the game shortly thereafter, and Binghamton earned an 11-8 victory.

Defensively, graduate student goalie Taylor Passuello played an important role for BU. She denied UMass Lowell a chance to take the lead during its early second-half push and recorded five of her nine saves between the 25- and 18-minute marks of the second half. Passuello continued to ward off shots in the final 10 minutes of the game, adding another three saves to her stat line.

“[Passuello] is that spark for our defensive unit,” Allen said. “She’s going to be the rock when we need it most. Heading into the last seven minutes or so of the game, it could’ve gone either way. I’m exceptionally proud of our defensive unit today. They trusted in their one-versus-one abilities and [Passuello] for coming up with those saves that were really needed.”

Passuello was able to play this year thanks to an extra year of eligibility that was granted due to last year’s campaign being cut short by COVID-19. She was joined by graduate student midfielder Alissa Franze in returning to Binghamton for an unexpected fifth year.

“[Passuello] and [Franze] as leaders are great to have as a part of this program and to have them back for another year,” Allen said. “Not only are they veteran players on the field, but they’re also just more experienced than the rest of this crew in how to balance it all. We’re really happy to have them as a part of this program for another [year] and continue to leave their legacy.”

The Bearcats will look to carry the momentum into their upcoming game against Albany next weekend. First draw control is set for 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 13 at John Fallon Field in Albany, New York.