Rachel Tomei/Staff Photographer Senior goaltender Tanner Cosens saved six shots during the Bearcats’ loss against Albany on Saturday.

For the first time since 2004, the Binghamton men’s lacrosse team advanced to the America East (AE) Championship game. Despite this achievement, however, the game was the last of the Bearcats’ 2017 season, as they fell to Albany in the title game, 20-8.

“I’m really proud of all our players, specifically our seniors,” said BU head coach Kevin McKeown. “These guys really helped this program take a really big step forward.”

The Great Danes (14-2, 6-0 AE) captured their eighth AE title in dominating fashion. In a matchup between the two teams earlier this season, the Bearcats (11-5, 4-2 AE) were able to hold Albany’s explosive offense in check. They had no such luck this time, as Albany tallied 12 goals in the first half.

Junior attack Connor Fields led the way for the Great Danes, logging three goals and six assists. He was named the tournament’s most outstanding player.

“They really outplayed us today on both ends of the field,” McKeown said.

The Bearcats were overmatched from the start, as Albany sprinted to a 4-0 lead. They were able to cut the lead to two goals early on in the second quarter.

However, Albany blew the game open by outscoring the Bearcats, 8-2, in the remainder of the quarter. The Great Danes also dominated on the faceoff x, winning 21 of 30 faceoffs, including 11 of 12 in the second quarter.

Albany rode its huge first-half lead to victory in the final two quarters while redshirt senior attack Tom Moore led the BU offense with a hat trick. He ended the season with 48 goals and 25 assists.

In the semi-final round, BU avenged a loss from earlier this season by defeating two-seeded UMBC. The Bearcats’ defense smothered the Retrievers (6-8, 4-2 AE), allowing only four goals to BU’s nine.

With the score knotted at three in the second quarter, BU went on a run to put the game away. Binghamton scored five straight goals stretching from the second quarter into the third.

The Bearcats followed that up by only allowing one UMBC goal in the second half. Senior goaltender Tanner Cosens saved nine of the 13 shots he faced.

“The new coaching staff did a phenomenal job with us this year,” Cosens said. “Everybody in the program … really just bought in. Everybody knew their role.”

On the offensive end, Moore and junior attack Thomas McAndrew paced the Bearcats with two goals and one assist each. BU’s win over UMBC was only its second AE Conference Tournament win in school history.

With the loss to Albany, McKeown finished his first full season as BU’s head coach with a program-record 11 wins. Paired with Moore’s success, Binghamton has transformed this year from a team in the shadows to one of the nation’s hottest teams to watch.

“It was [an] honor to play with this group of guys,” Moore said. “At the beginning of the year, we ranked last in the conference, so I think we proved a lot of people wrong this year.”

Going forward, McKeown says that BU’s success is only beginning.

“We told our guys we are really proud of them, but certainly we’re not satisfied,” McKeown said. “We want to be wearing those championship hats at the end of the game.”