Rachel Tomei/Pipe Dream Photographer Kevin McKeown will begin his first season as head coach of the Binghamton men’s lacrosse team.

The America East (AE) Conference released its preseason coaches’ polls for men’s and women’s lacrosse on Wednesday, with both Binghamton squads near the bottom. The men are ranked last at seventh, while the women are one spot higher at six.

BU’s women’s team is coming off a 6-11 year in which it struggled in conference play, finishing the season with a 2-4 record. This season, the Bearcats return their top scorer, senior midfielder Callon Williams. She led the team in goals (29) and assists (9). Also returning is BU’s second-leading scorer, sophomore midfielder Rebecca Golderman, who tallied 27 goals last season.

The Bearcats have lost two key pieces of their defense, Allie Rodgers and Erin McNulty, to graduation. Rodgers led the conference in caused turnovers per game (2.18) and ranked second in ground balls per game (2.47). McNulty started 11 of BU’s 17 games, ranking third in the conference in goals-against average and save percentage.

As for the men, new head coach Kevin McKeown has his work cut out for him. The squad, which finished 4-10 last season (2-4 in the AE), lost its two main sources of offense, Zach Scaduto and Johnny Maher, to graduation.

The scoring burden this season will fall heavily on juniors Ben Kocis and Thomas McAndrew, and senior Matt Kaser. Kocis put up 29 points last season while McAndrew and Kaser put up 19 points each. Sophomore Joe Licata, who impressed in his first season as a Bearcat with 18 points, will also be a key in the offense.

Both teams will kick off the season at home, with the Bearcat women playing against Lafayette on Thursday, Feb. 16 at 4 p.m. and the men against Colgate at noon on Saturday, Feb. 18. The games will be held at the Bearcats Sports Complex in Vestal, New York.