The Binghamton men’s lacrosse team found itself with an opportunity to clinch a spot in the America East (AE) Tournament for the first time since 2014 when it entered overtime on the road against Stony Brook on Friday.
With less than three minutes left in overtime, junior attack Thomas McAndrew found sophomore midfielder Joe Licata, who fired from up top to pierce the top left corner of the cage and win the game, 6-5. Licata immediately turned, ripped off his helmet and ran toward the Bearcats’ defense, where the rest of the team rushed to celebrate with defenders and senior goaltender Tanner Cosens, who kept them in the game.
“It was great for a guy like Joe Licata, being 10 minutes from his hometown, to be able to stick the game-winner like that,” said BU head coach Kevin McKeown. “There’s a lot of guys from Long Island, so it was a great crowd to play in front of.”
A predominantly Long Island-based team, the Bearcats (10-4, 4-2 AE) had a big turnout in Stony Brook, adding even more excitement and tension to the game that would decide if Binghamton would make it to the AE Tournament for the first time since 2014.
Despite the energy in the atmosphere, both teams struggled to find the back of the net, with the exception of redshirt senior attacker Tom Moore. The team’s top scorer recorded the Bearcats’ first four goals, three of them being in the first quarter.
“They started shutting him off mid-third quarter with the long pole so he was doing a little bit more off ball,” McKeown said.
Shutting off Moore became an issue for the Bearcats’ offense, who were outshot 7-3 on goal by the Seawolves in the third quarter. Cosens stepped up in a big way, recording 13 saves in the game and giving BU the possessions they needed.
“[Cosens] was really the difference for us,” McKeown said. “He made numerous point-blank saves, especially in the second half, and bailed us out a couple of times when we had some defensive breakdowns.”
Even with Cosens providing them with extra possessions, the Bearcats continued to struggle with converting those opportunities into goals. After a scoreless second quarter by both teams, Moore added his fourth goal early in the third quarter and then remained silent with the rest of the offense. Binghamton, which averages 30.6 shots on goal per game, could only muster 12 against Stony Brook.
Things looked bleak for the Bearcats as they trailed the Seawolves 5-4 near the end of the fourth quarter. All of a sudden, junior midfielder Stephen Petrelli came streaming down the field on a fast break opportunity and ripped a shot to tie up the game with one minute and 21 seconds remaining in regulation.
“Petrelli and Licata have done a great job all year initiating the offense by drawing some slides and moving the ball,” McKeown said. “It was nice to see them have the opportunities to both tie the game and have the game-winner.”
The win put Binghamton in the No. 3 seed and matched up against No. 2 seed UMBC, who defeated the Bearcats 7-6, just two weeks ago.
Faceoff for Thursday’s game against UMBC is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. from the Tom and Mary Casey Stadium at the University at Albany in Albany, New York.
“I think a big thing for us will be to just treat it like another game,” McKeown said. “In the end we’re just playing another game of lacrosse, so as far as preparation leading up to the game, I don’t think too much will be that different.”