The Binghamton men’s lacrosse team traveled to Fairfield on Saturday for its last nonconference game of the season. The visitors had a solid first half, scoring nine goals and holding a five-goal lead over the Stags, and after trading goals back-and-forth with the hosts throughout the second half, the Bearcats emerged with a 14-9 win.
“I’m proud of the way we played across the board,” said Binghamton head coach Kevin McKeown. “We really wanted to focus on scrapping for ground balls and getting possessions. I thought offensively we played well and shared the ball well. [Sophomore attack Matthew Keegan], [senior midfielder Quinn O’Hara], [and redshirt junior midfielder Thomas Greenblatt] all had a big game for us. It was nice to see those guys step up. The face-off unit played really well. [Sophomore goalie Connor Winters] came up with some really big saves on a few key opportunities for Fairfield.”
Binghamton (4-2) started off the game strong, with a goal by Keegan four minutes in. However, Fairfield (2-5) knotted the game at 1-1 with a score soon after Keegan. The Bearcats responded with a goal from junior midfielder Ethan Insinga and another from Keegan, putting them up 3-1. After a barrage of shots on Winters over the course of the first quarter, the Stags netted two more goals to knot the score at 3-3. However, Greenblatt rifled a shot from 15 yards out into the bottom of the net and gave BU a 4-3 lead going into the second quarter.
“[Greenblatt]’s the pace setter out there,” McKeown said. “He’s got a great feel for the game, when we should go fast or be more patient. He also does a good job of figuring out how the defense is playing him, whether it’s time for him to shoot or pass, and obviously he found a bunch of passing opportunities today with the four assists he had.”
The Bearcats opened up the second quarter with goals from Keegan and senior defender Declan Ferris to expand to a 6-3 lead. The Stags responded to make the score 6-4, but that would be their only goal of the quarter. The visitors finished the second period on a 3-0 run with two goals from O’Hara and another by Keegan, entering the break with a 9-4 lead after outshooting Fairfield 29-14.
“[Keegan’s] a guy who takes lacrosse seriously and puts in a lot of time on his own outside of practice over the summer and winter break,” McKeown said. “A lot of hours with the stick in his hands, so it’s nice to see that paying off for him.”
Both teams stifled each other defensively in the third frame, adding just one goal each. In the fourth quarter, however, the teams matched their scoring efforts at four goals each, allowing for the 14-9 win. Greenblatt, Keegan and O’Hara added multiple goals to their tallies, with Keegan leading the Bearcats with six goals. Greenblatt notched four assists in addition to netting two goals.
“I thought we got a little casual,” McKeown said. “There were a few shots that we took that were maybe a little bit outside our range, or we didn’t quite shoot with the power we had in the first half there. Credit to [Fairfield’s] guys too. They made a couple of saves. They had some good possessions I thought too in the third quarter. That’s when I thought Winters had a couple of good saves. He had six in that third quarter, so I think he did a great job of being able to keep them at an arm’s length still.”
The Bearcats dominated the Stags in the offensive half of the field, finishing the game with 48 shots compared to Fairfield’s 37. Winter’s made 11 saves for Binghamton while the Stag’s goalie finished with 14. Binghamton turned the ball over 17 times compared to the hosts’ 12, but led the Stags in ground balls with a tally of 37-25.
“I think just taking another step forward and getting better,” McKeown said. “I think there’s plenty of room for improvement being about halfway through the season now. We know we’re going to see a lot of quality teams in our conference and Merrimack will definitely be one of those. It’ll be a big challenge, and we’ll have to be on our game to do well.”
Binghamton will begin their America East conference schedule next Saturday, March 18 when they travel to take on Merrimack. First faceoff is set for 1 p.m. at the Duane Stadium in North Andover, Massachusetts.