Michael Contegni/Pipe Dream Staff Photographer Senior attack Paul O’Donnell tallied four goals and an assist in his final game as a Bearcat, played against Vermont on Saturday.

Entering its regular-season finale on Saturday, the Binghamton men’s lacrosse team was two goals away from securing its second-consecutive America East tournament berth. But the Catamounts (6-9, 4-2 AE), who have not qualified for a conference tournament since the 2010 season, dashed BU’s (4-9, 2-4 AE) chances with a 14-13 victory.

Entering Saturday’s contest in a unique position, the Bearcats had to beat Vermont by at least two goals — due to a prior tie-breaker advantage held by UVM — in order to advance to the postseason. With an added sense of urgency, Binghamton went immediately to work on offense, putting up five shots in the game’s opening five minutes. On Binghamton’s sixth shot of the day, senior attack Paul O’Donnell found twine to give BU the first lead of the day, 1-0.

Senior midfielder J.T. Hauck and junior midfielder Johnny Maher followed O’Donnell with scores of their own to push BU’s margin to 3-0 midway through the first. With the game looking ready to spin out of control, Vermont finished the quarter with its only score of the period to end the first quarter trailing BU, 3-1.

In the second quarter, however, the Catamounts set to roaring. After connecting on a second goal to open scoring in the stanza, sophomore midfielder Ian MacKay tied the game at three. Senior attack Tucker Nelson gave the Bearcats the lead again with his first points on the day — but UVM responded with two more goals to enter the half ahead, 5-4.

Opening up the third with a second goal by Nelson, Binghamton outscored Vermont, 3-2, in the quarter despite losing the shot advantage to the Catamounts, 13-8. Following another MacKay goal to put Vermont up, 6-5, for the third lead change of the day, Hauck and O’Donnell put in back-to-back goals to give the lead back to the Bearcats. But the period ended tied after a late UVM goal, setting the stage for a crucial fourth quarter between the playoff contenders in Vestal.

In a final 15 minutes that saw 13 total goals between the two squads, redshirt freshman attack Sean Gilroy put BU up, 8-7, for the first goal of the period. After the Catamounts took the lead back with two quick scores of their own, freshman midfielder Ben Kocis and Nelson connected to reclaim the lead at the quarter’s midpoint, 10-9.

The back and forth continued with both teams tied at 13 with less than one minute remaining in play. But with only 10 seconds left in the matchup, MacKay scored his fifth goal of the day to take the win — and the playoff spot — with a 14-13 victory.

Doubling as the final game for six BU seniors, the game was bittersweet for the group. With the class playing a crucial role in Binghamton’s 4-1 America East run in 2014 — the team’s best regular season finish since 2004 — seniors Hauck, Nelson and O’Donnell finished with two, three and four goals in the game, respectively.

Closing the season with a 2-3 record in the America East, this year’s young Bearcat squad spent much of the season knocking at the door of upsets, losing three games against top-25 opponents by an average of two goals or fewer. However, with much of the defense set to return in 2016, along with developing talent on the attacking end and midfield, 2015 may prove to be a major stepping stone for Binghamton men’s lacrosse.