The Binghamton men’s lacrosse team traveled to North Andover, Massachusetts on Saturday to face off against Merrimack in its first America East (AE) matchup of the season. The visiting Bearcats got off to a strong start, scoring 10 first-half goals while only letting up four to the Warriors. A back-and-forth third quarter — followed by a solid Binghamton defensive effort in the fourth — allowed the Bearcats to maintain their lead and win 14-7.
“It was a great team win,” said Binghamton head coach Kevin McKeown. “I thought we did well in all facets … [I] thought [sophomore goalie Connor Winters] did a great job in goal, so I’m really proud of the guys to get the first conference win on the road.”
BU (5-2, 1-0 AE) started the first quarter strong with goals from freshman midfielder Will Feldmann and sophomore attack Gage Adams giving the Bearcats an early 2-0 lead over the Warriors (4-3, 0-1 AE). However, Merrimack responded with a goal of its own to cut the Binghamton lead to one. After each team traded goals again, two consecutive scores from sophomore attack Matthew Keegan gave the Bearcats a 5-2 lead going into the second quarter.
“I thought [Binghamton assistant coach Tyler Perrelle] did a really good job of preparing the guys during the week,” McKeown said. “[Merrimack’s] goalie is very good, and we didn’t want to necessarily take the first shot. We wanted to work our possessions and have longer possessions and we did that, and I think doing that allowed us to get some higher percentage looks.”
The second quarter started off with a goal from Merrimack that cut BU’s lead to 5-3. After that, however, Binghamton bombarded Merrimack with four unanswered goals to make the score 9-3 with three minutes to go in the half. The first goal of the run was from Keegan, who completed his hat trick. Winters followed soon after, scoring as a goalie and hitting the back of the net from 55 yards out. Binghamton used the momentum to score two more unanswered from junior midfielder Ethan Insinga and senior midfielder Quinn O’Hara, respectively. After the run, a goal from Merrimack and a last-second goal from BU made the score 10-4 going into the second half.
“When the goalie scores the guys get fired up for sure,” McKeown said. “I know our sideline was pretty excited for him.”
The third quarter saw both teams alternate goals, with each team scoring twice in the quarter. The fourth quarter had less offense but saw more action from Binghamton. On offense, the Bearcats scored two consecutive goals in the fourth, coming from Adams and redshirt junior midfielder Thomas Greenblatt, respectively, to give BU a 14-6 lead. Greenblatt had his first goal of the game in the quarter, netting his only score to add to his game-high six assists. On defense, Binghamton did not allow a goal until the final seconds of the game, which made the final score 14-7.
“I think we handled our one-on-one matchups really well,” McKeown said. “We felt like we matched up with them pretty well … and we gave [Winters] some shots that were savable.”
Binghamton managed control of the game offensively, shooting 34 shots on goal compared to Merrimack’s 20. Individually, Keegan’s four goals brought his scoring total to 23 goals on the season. In addition, Greenblatt had seven points in the contest, including tying the program record with six assists in the first half.
“[Keegan and Greenblatt] are doing a great job,” McKeown said. “[Greenblatt] is seeing the field on a really high level, being able to find open guys [and] play through some pressure. [Keegan’s] doing a great job dodging, playing off-ball and finding the back of the net. It’s nice to have those two guys out there on our side.”
Binghamton will head home to continue AE play against NJIT on Saturday, March 25. First faceoff is set for 1 p.m. at the Bearcats Sports Complex in Vestal, New York.