In their first postseason appearance since 2014, the No. 2 seed Binghamton men’s lacrosse team will travel to Albany to take on No. 3 seed UMBC in the semifinals of the America East (AE) Tournament. After winning their previous meeting 7-6 and snapping the Bearcats’ eight-game win streak, UMBC (6-7, 4-2 AE) offers a redemption game for the Bearcats (10-4, 4-2 AE), with higher stakes.
BU head coach Kevin McKeown will make his postseason debut in his first year as a head coach, exemplifying the program’s sharp turnaround. The Bearcats improved their record by six overall wins in comparison to last year, and much of their turnaround has been attributed to McKeown’s staff and the team’s upperclassmen.
“Our seniors have really done a great job in embracing the new coaching staff,” McKeown said. “Anything that we’re doing that’s different from [what] they had done previously, they’ve done a great job of holding our teammates accountable. I think that’s really been a key for us this year.”
Both McKeown and redshirt senior attack Tom Moore bring invaluable postseason experience to a Binghamton program which has not played in May for three years. In 2004, McKeown anchored an elite Bearcat defense to the AE Championship game. McKeown also clinched a postseason berth for Binghamton as interim head coach in 2011.
Moore was a freshman on a Denver team which advanced to the final four in 2013. While the team is thrilled to be playing in postseason, McKeown and Moore have reminded the team to keep things in perspective.
“Everybody’s really amped up,” Moore said. “The biggest thing, even when I was at Denver, is we just look at it as just another game. We don’t want to look at it as an impossible last game of the season.”
While the Bearcats’ roster has been mostly void of playing in the postseason, their schedule has presented tough opponents and a tough atmosphere which provide a playoff feeling to otherwise less important games.
“Playing Syracuse in a big, high-energy environment was good preparation for [the playoffs],” McKeown said. “I think our guys will be ready to go.”
Binghamton relinquished a 4-1 lead to the Retrievers back on April 15 and eventually a late one-goal lead to mark one of its toughest losses of the season. Moore was held in check for only two goals, an unprecedented mark for a player who averages over four points per game.
Senior goaltender Tanner Cosens logged eight saves, but multiple turnovers and failure to manufacture stops allowed UMBC to slowly complete its comeback. The Bearcats are looking to have a more focused and poised approach to adjust to the Retrievers’ style of play.
“We want to get that ball off the ground and get it out of our zone, and let our offense have the opportunity to play,” Cosens said. “[We] played a lot of defense, specifically in the third quarter against UMBC last time.”
Binghamton’s opportunity against UMBC is this Thursday, May 4 in Albany. Faceoff from the Tom and Mary Casey Stadium is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.