With time ticking away in the fourth quarter, the Binghamton men’s lacrosse team found itself on the verge of a monumental upset on the road over No. 1 Syracuse. Trailing, 9-8, with just 11 seconds remaining, sophomore attack Griffin Konen found the ball in his stick and fired off a shot. SU’s redshirt senior goaltender Evan Molloy stopped the point-blank attempt and let the clock run out, crushing Binghamton’s hopes of an upset.
While the Bearcats (9-4, 3-2 America East) didn’t come out with the win, BU’s effort on Saturday was enough to put the top 25 on notice.
“[We] know we can compete with anyone in the country,” said BU head coach Kevin McKeown. “We can take some confidence out of it, but I don’t think our guys are satisfied with losing.”
The afternoon was marked by streaky play. Despite being a strong first-quarter team, Binghamton faltered early this time, allowing the Orange (11-1, 4-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) to race out to a 4-1 lead on the back of an excellent fast-break offense.
“I think in the first 10, maybe 15 minutes, of the game, we didn’t handle [the situation] as well as I was hoping we would,” McKeown said. “Then we settled in and realized we were playing on the same size lacrosse field that we play on every day.”
Indeed, the 49,250-seat Carrier Dome in Syracuse, New York poses unique challenges to visitors; McKeown, a former collegiate goaltender, noted the oddity of the stadium’s artificial lighting.
“It’s not an easy place to play goalie and I thought [senior goaltender Tanner Cosens] did an awesome job,” McKeown said.
Cosens saw 17 shots on goal and made eight saves.
In the second quarter, BU was able to control possession and slow down the tempo of the game, which allowed the offense to begin chipping away at Syracuse’s lead. BU’s resurgence can largely be chalked up to junior midfielder Austin Macchi’s capacity to clinch possession at the faceoff; in the second quarter alone, he won six of seven draws against senior midfielder Ben Williams, Syracuse’s all-time leader in faceoff wins.
“It seems like the bigger the stage, the better [Macchi] does,” McKeown said. “There’s nothing that he’s scared of.”
The Bearcats refused to squander possessions, outscoring the Orange six goals to three in the second and third quarters. Spearheading BU’s offense was its leading scorer, redshirt senior attack Tom Moore, who tallied five goals off seven shots. He currently has 63 points this season and his 39 goals tie a single-season school record.
“We ended up using [Moore] a little bit more off-ball and he had a lot of success finding some seams whether they were man-to-man or zone,” McKeown said. “He took advantage of the opportunities his teammates gave him.”
From the midfield, sophomore midfielder Joe Licata, junior midfielder Stephen Petrelli and sophomore midfielder T.J. Tiernan each added goals.
“We had some longer possessions where we weren’t taking the first shot available to us, so that allowed us to get a little rest on the defensive end,” McKeown said.
Despite significantly limiting Syracuse’s offensive production and controlling possession, the Bearcat defense was unable to completely shut down the Orange’s deep offense.
“We might have gotten stretched a little thin,” McKeown said. “They run three [midfield units] and defensively we run about four or five guys.”
In total, eight Syracuse players tallied points.
Had the Bearcats been stronger in the first quarter, McKeown said he believes that this game could have resulted in the upset they hoped for.
“We just have to put all four quarters together; we only really put our best foot [forward] in three of them,” McKeown said. “We had some of our best moments of lacrosse this year today.”
With one game remaining in the regular season, the Bearcats hope to stop their three-game skid and clinch a spot in the AE playoffs when they travel to Stony Brook on Friday.
“A win can put us in and we don’t want to put our fate in anybody else’s hands, so really that’s the most important game of the year,” McKeown said.
The Bearcats are set to play next against Stony Brook on Friday. Opening faceoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. from Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium in Stony Brook, New York.