The Binghamton women’s lacrosse team clinched their first AE championship appearance in program history on Friday afternoon. The Bearcats traveled to Albany, New York to face No. 3 Vermont in an America East (AE) semifinal contest. Looking to avenge last year’s loss to the Catamounts in the semifinal game, the Bearcats staged a 5-0 run in the fourth quarter to comeback and defeat Vermont 12-10.
“I think today really came down to just believing in the process and knowing that there was going to be swings and momentum throughout the game and really just trusting in what we were capable of doing,” said Binghamton head coach Stephanie Allen. “It wasn’t just one unit or one side of the ball doing all the work. It was certainly a battle, and it came down to our defensive unit, our draw unit and our offense putting things together and playing for each other.”
A back-and-forth first quarter was kicked off with sophomore midfielder Abigail Carroll finding twine in the first 45 seconds to give BU (11-5, 5-1 AE) an early advantage. The Catamounts (8-8, 4-2 AE) responded with a goal of their own, but not long after, senior attack Kenna Newman nabbed a goal to regain the lead for Binghamton. The quarter came to a close with a 2-0 run by the Catamounts, putting them ahead 3-2.
“We knew we were going to be battling back and forth with Vermont,” Allen said. “I think for us, it’s just kind of keeping a consistent tempo throughout the game and making sure that we aren’t rushing or playing in a panicked way. Whether we’re up, down or even, it really just needs to be consistent in terms of the effort that we’re giving.”
Both sides saw the pace of the game slow going into the second quarter. While the Catamounts got on the board first, junior midfielder Hayley Weltner found the back of the net, which cut the Vermont’s lead to one. The Catamounts responded with another score, but Binghamton’s draw unit, powered by Carroll and junior midfielder Kristen Scheidel respectively, managed a 2-0 run to tie up the game 5-5 going into the half.
The third frame largely fell under the Catamounts’ control, as they laid down a 4-0 run to break the tie and expand their lead. The Bearcats answered with seven seconds left in the quarter as Scheidel found the back of the net to get Binghamton out of its scoring drought. Heading into the final frame, the Bearcats found themselves down 9-6.
“We had a couple timeouts and breaks at the quarter where we just talked about playing as a team, embracing everything that they’ve done up until this point and relying on what they know,” Allen said. “They’re smart players. We’ve been through adversity earlier in the season, and it was just kind of reverting back to what we know and what we’ve learned in earlier moments and embracing that as we headed into the final half of the fourth quarter.”
Carroll kept the offensive momentum going into the fourth with an early goal, but the Catamounts responded quickly with a goal of their own to maintain a three-score advantage. However, Vermont’s 10th goal of the day would be its last as Binghamton began to find its groove on offense. The Bearcats’ run was kicked into gear by Scheidel and Carroll, each getting on the board with their third and fourth goals of the game, respectively.
A key foul by Vermont then gave the Bearcats a game-tying free position shot opportunity, and sophomore attack Olivia Muscolino found the back of the net to tie the game at 10. Senior midfielder Isabella Meli then gave Binghamton its first lead since the first quarter off an assist from Carroll, and Muscolino then scored on a second free position shot to cement the 5-0 Bearcats run. When all was said and done, the Bearcats had secured a 12-10 victory and earned themselves a spot in the AE championship match.
“It’s kind of new territory for us, but we’ve been the underdogs all season,” Allen said. “We’ve kind of flown under the radar, and I think our team actually prefers that. A lot of teams don’t come in and necessarily give us the respect that we deserve, and so we’re happy to be on the stage … being in a situation where maybe we’re not expected to come home with a championship, but we know we’re capable of coming home with that trophy.”
Binghamton will take on No. 1 Albany in the AE championship game on Sunday, May 7. First draw control is set for 10 a.m. at John Fallon Field in Albany, New York.