It took nine weeks, but the Binghamton men’s lacrosse team finally earned its first home win of 2014.
After a particularly challenging non-conference schedule at the Bearcats Sports Complex, featuring ranked opponents in Syracuse, Cornell and Colgate, the Bearcats (4-6, 2-0 America East) posted a 13-7 victory over conference-rival UMBC on Sunday.
“We started off 0-5 [at home] because we played a great schedule and that kind of prepared us for today,” BU head coach Scott Nelson said. “We had been in five tight games at home, and that helped us today.”
Junior attack Tucker Nelson played a particularly dominant game, earning America East Player of the Week honors on Monday after posting two goals and four assists against the Retrievers (5-5, 1-1 AE). The effort bumped the Bearcat standout’s numbers to 35 points and 23 assists, respectively, making him the team’s leader in both categories.
Despite their commanding victory, the Bearcats struggled early. After opening with goals from senior defender Garrett Augustyn and sophomore attack Zachery Scaduto, a four-goal Retriever run in the second half shook the Bearcats. The half closed with the Retrievers up, 6-4.
But come the second half, Binghamton’s defense held UMBC to just one goal in 30 minutes. Junior goalkeeper Max Schefler collected 12 saves in the half, enabling his team to recapture the lead. Despite facing the nation’s No. 5 scorer in Matt Gregoire, Schefler stifled UMBC’s senior attack to just two goals in the contest.
The Bearcat offense, meanwhile, would not squander its opportunities, putting up a season high in goals. The offensive output featured three goals from senior attack and leading scorer Matt Springer, pushing his goal tally to 28 on the season.
“We challenged a couple kids, we challenged Garrett Augustyn to get out on [UMBC’s] big midfielder Pat Young and he did a great job,” the head coach said of his team’s resurgence. “We had some breakdowns still, but Max Schefler saved us a few times and that just took the wind right out of their sail. But at halftime we just stayed with the game plan and told them we needed the ball, and once we got the ball I knew they’d have trouble covering us and we did a good job with that.”
Another bright spot for the Bearcats was the impressive face-off play from freshman Dan Mazurek. The midfielder won nine of 19 face-offs, including four of five in the final quarter. Not a bad outing for the freshman against one of the best face-off specialists in the nation in UMBC’s Phil Poe.
“That surprised us a little bit because Phil Poe was one of the best of in the country,” Scott Nelson said. “The first half we fought with him and then in the second half, Dan Mazurek took over and did an unbelievable job.”
The Bearcats are scheduled to continue conference play on the road against Vermont this weekend. The Catamounts (5-5, 0-2 AE) defeated Binghamton, 8-7, in last season’s meeting.
But for a BU team that is already 2-0 in conference, all eyes are on the tournament next month.
“It’s very important [to get wins early],” Scott Nelson said. “Usually three wins gets you in, and two wins might get you in. It feels real good to be in the driver’s seat right now.”
Play is set for 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Virtue Field in Burlington, Vt.