Binghamton men’s lacrosse’s 2017 season was an inspiring turnaround from the year before. Its record rocketed from 4-10 to 11-5.
However, the season ended on a sour note with a 20-8 loss in the America East Championship to Albany. While the improvement may be deemed a success by comparison, the Bearcats are hungry for more in 2018.
“The big thing everyone’s been asking about is last year, but we know this is a whole new year,” said senior midfielder Stephen Petrelli. “We have a bunch of new guys playing different roles, but we just want to focus on each day and each practice.”
BU’s combined record of 8-19 in 2015 and 2016 certainly painted a grim picture for any championship aspirations. Undeterred by the rough stretch, the Bearcats made a complete turnaround last year and now feel as if they are close to a championship.
“As freshmen, we had a goal initially of winning rings and championships, and as seniors, those goals are still in front of us,” said redshirt junior defenseman Sal Fama. “After our first two years we weren’t sure if we’d ever get close, so last year was a big step for us.”
Binghamton graduated eight seniors last year, including an integral player in the program, attack Tom Moore. Last season, Moore led the Bearcats in both goals and assists and was named the Binghamton Athletics Male Athlete of the Year.
“It’s now on us to step up and prove it. We’ve taken the culture that we built last year and it’s something we instill every morning,” Fama said. “The ‘We over me’ concept is one of the pillars of our program and the chemistry of this team is really our biggest strength.”
While players like Moore have left the program, there is no shortage of new talent coming into Vestal. Eleven freshmen currently sit on the roster and second-year BU head coach Kevin McKeown has high hopes for many of them.
“The two freshman goalies [Hunter Greco and Robert Martin] have been doing a great job, and [freshman defenseman] Kyle Tiernan at the long-stick midfield position will be out there for us,” McKeown said. “We have five or six guys at least making us think about inserting them in game situations.”
After a surprisingly strong season last year, it will be a challenge to keep the momentum going. BU fell in its first two bouts, both of which were on the road. The Bearcats understand how the competition views them this season.
“A lot of people are doubting us, saying that we just had our run last year, and following all that hype has been a big part of our journey,” Fama said.
In the face of losing some standout players, one thing that the Bearcats have going for them is depth. It will be difficult to fill the 73-point void left by Moore, but the team hopes contributions across the board can do just that.
“At the midfield we’ve had a lot of different guys running with the first group,” McKeown said. “I think with four of our five top scorers returning, we’ll have more strength in numbers than last year.”
Binghamton dropped its first two games on the road to No. 10-ranked Syracuse and Colgate but hope to get back on track as it opens up at home against Canisius on Tuesday. Opening faceoff is scheduled for 4 p.m. from the Bearcats Sports Complex in Vestal, New York.