For many sports fans, March is the season of upset victories. Up against No. 16 Towson on Saturday, the Binghamton men’s lacrosse team hoped to secure one of its own on the field instead of a court. But despite an effort that took the Tigers (6-3) to the game’s final seconds, the Bearcats fell, 9-8, in a matchup that was all about defense.
Not a bad showing for a BU team that hasn’t broken into the top-25 itself since the Bush Administration — right?
“No such thing [as a bad showing],” Binghamton head coach Scott Nelson said. “We’ve got to get to that level. And we’re going to need harder work, more support from everybody in [the program] to help us get there.”
On its first possession of the game, the Towson offense found the back of the Binghamton net to open scoring. Following an early BU penalty, the Tigers scored again. After a face-off violation and turnover by the Bearcats, Towson used the advantage to go up, 3-0, less than six minutes into the matchup.
In danger of having the game get out of hand early, junior attack Zach Scaduto scored for Binghamton midway through the quarter. Following another exchange of goals, the first period ended with BU down, 4-2, despite being outshot by only one.
“We were not ourselves,” Nelson said. “We didn’t share the ball, we took a lot of bad shots. And the two little sequences where we did well, we got really good shots and good looks at it, but we just let them get ahead because we didn’t play good defense.”
The second quarter began with more of the same for the Bearcats, as Towson redshirt senior attack Max Siskind scored the first of his game-high four goals only 17 seconds into the stanza.
But it didn’t take the Bearcats long to respond to the 5-2 deficit. After a difficult stick-save by sophomore goalie Tanner Cosens, senior midfielder Emmett O’Hara got a bouncer past the Towson cage to cut the Bearcats’ deficit to two. On the following Binghamton possession, BU’s scoring leader, senior attack Tucker Nelson, garnered his 100th career point on an unassisted goal. Minutes later, Nelson cracked the 100-point milestone with an assist to redshirt freshman attack Sean Gilroy — tying the contest at half, 5-5.
“We were unselfish,” coach Nelson said. “We made the extra pass look at the goal by Emmett O’Hara. He had nobody there on the dodge, he put it in the little corner.”
Opening the third, neither team was able to establish an offensive rhythm. Towson, however, was able to find its groove on defense. In the period, the Tigers outshot the Bearcats, 11-3, to complement a 4-0 faceoff advantage over BU.
After a Siskind goal midway through the period to give the edge back to Towson, Scaduto tied the game at six with just over one minute left in the third, which put the Bearcats in solid position to pull the upset with 15 left to play.
Following another bout in the opening half by Cosens and the Binghamton defense in the first half of the period, Siskind found the back of the net twice in 60 seconds to put Towson up by two with less than seven minutes to go.
Not to be ousted before the final whistle, Scaduto scored his second of the day after a feed from O’Hara, but a goal by Towson on its next offensive sequence pushed the Tigers’ lead back to 9-7.
Taking the following face-off, the methodical Bearcat offense was strapped for time with just under three minutes to find two goals to tie. After a blocked shot and Towson turnover, Gilroy put the Bearcats back within one after a late goal assisted by Scaduto.
With 29 seconds left on the clock, the face-off went BU’s way, giving the Bearcats a chance to tie the game at nine. That face-off, however, was the only thing that went Binghamton’s way in the final seconds. A late Bearcat turnover in the midfield gave the ball — and the win — to Towson, 9-8.
Up next for Binghamton is another opponent out of the Colonial Athletic Conference, in Drexel. The Dragons (3-5) took the CAA Tournament title in 2014. Being the team’s final game before its America East season kicks into full gear, coach Nelson hopes that the Bearcats can tie up loose ends in Philadelphia — especially in the absence of defensive anchor and captain, junior defender Chris Bechle.
“With Chris Bechle out for an indefinite amount of time … we’re going to have to get a little more out of everybody,” coach Nelson concluded. “Some young guys are going to have to step up quickly.”
Binghamton is set to face off against Drexel today at 4:30 p.m. at Vidas Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.