For the seniors of the Binghamton men’s lacrosse team, Saturday’s game against Stony Brook was as memorable as it was historic.
After starting the season 0-5 at the Bearcats Sports Complex, Binghamton (7-6, 4-0 America East) finished its home slate with three consecutive wins, capped by a 14-11 victory over the Seawolves (5-9, 1-3 AE) on Saturday. The Bearcats hadn’t won their first four conference games since 2004 — when they also captured the America East regular-season title — and BU head coach Scott Nelson thanked his upperclassmen.
When asked to describe his 12 graduating seniors, Nelson used the words “incredible,” “bright” and “mature.”
“They’ve shown great leadership,” he said. “We’re real proud of our senior class.”
However, Stony Brook proved a tough opponent on BU’s road to a 4-0 record. Led by sophomore midfielder Chris Hughes, the Seawolves put up three unanswered goals to start the game. And as late as the last quarter, Stony Brook continued to hang with the Bearcats, shooting 50 percent on the day.
But an offensive shootout by BU proved too much for Stony Brook to handle. With senior attack Brandon Planck leading with four goals, along with a 9-3 BU run midway through the game, the Bearcats put up 42 shots on their way to a season-high 14 goals.
“We knew we’d have trouble with stopping them on defense, but our offense is really coming along,” Nelson said.
Nelson also mentioned the stellar play of sophomore attack Mitchell Rick and senior midfielder Kelly Donigan, both of whom came off the bench to add to BU’s point column.
The Bearcats strutted their depth all game long, with six bench players finding the net for BU. The starting 10 would contribute only four of Binghamton’s 11 goals. Senior attack Matt Springer put in his sixth hat trick of the season with three goals, while junior attack Tucker Nelson tallied a single goal and a lone assist late in the game.
Binghamton, undefeated in conference play, is now tied with 19th-ranked and reigning conference champion Albany atop the America East standings. Not even eligible for the conference tournament in 2013, the Bearcats now find themselves one game away from taking a top seed. They have clinched a top-two finish.
“[This season] has been a great thing to be involved in. We’ve taken so many strides,” Nelson said. “We had hope for Binghamton lacrosse and now we’re here.”
The last stop of the regular season for the Bearcats will be Albany, where they’re scheduled to take on the Great Danes (7-5, 4-0 AE). Rolling through its conference competition, Albany boasts the nation’s best scoring offense, averaging 15.09 goals per game. Pair that with the nation’s top goalkeeper in sophomore Blaze Riorden, who averages 13.55 saves per game and the Great Danes are sure to be the biggest conference test for the Bearcats so far.
The seniors may have played their final game at the Bearcats Sports Complex, but their chance at keeping the legacy of the 2014 season alive is far from over.
Binghamton and Albany will face off at 7 p.m. Saturday at John Fallon Field in Albany.