The Binghamton women’s lacrosse team has had a season of firsts. Freshman attack Paige Volkmann received her first America East (AE) conference weekly accolade when she was named AE Women’s Lacrosse Rookie of the Week. Binghamton lost to Niagara for the first time in eight matchups and played both the No. 2 and No. 1 teams in the nation in the same season for the first time. Goalies sophomore Taylor Passuello and senior Emma Jehle both received their first AE Women’s Lacrosse Defensive Player of the Week award. The Bearcats met with Hartford for the first time and Binghamton defeated New Hampshire for the first time in program history. Considerably the most impressive first, however, is that Binghamton (8-8, 5-2 AE) has reached the AE Tournament for the first time in program history and has clinched the third seed. The team is now set to take on second-seeded Albany later this week while the conference-leading Seawolves and UNH make up the other side of the bracket.
While Binghamton has collected all of these firsts, the Stony Brook women’s lacrosse team has been collecting the top seed in the AE Tournament for six straight seasons and has landed itself the No. 1 spot in the nation. Stony Brook (17-0, 7-0 AE) has dominated the tournament, and with its undefeated record this season, things are looking on the bright side for the Seawolves.
In order to face the No. 1 team in the nation, however, Binghamton must overpower Albany (8-8, 6-1 AE). The Bearcats were defeated by Albany earlier in the season, but only lost by two (12-10). This is the sixth straight year that Albany has secured the No. 2 spot in the tournament, falling to Stony Brook in the championship game each year.
“I think for us it’s about stringing together two halves,” said BU head coach Stephanie Allen. “We started out really strong against [Albany] and got off to a great start in that game and then had a couple moments of lapse out there. I think it’s just about making sure we keep up the energy, manage the game on the offensive end especially and make sure that we’re really communicating on the defensive end for consistent two halves.”
The Bearcats were eliminated from postseason contention last season with an 11-6 loss against UNH, but redeemed themselves with a 13-7 victory against UNH in the regular season finale. Along with the win came a record for senior midfielder Jacqueline Kennedy, who broke the career record of 74 caused turnovers set by Allie Rodgers, ‘16. Forty-eight of Kennedy’s 77 caused turnovers have come from this season alone.
“Certainly last year didn’t end the way we wanted with a loss against UNH,” Allen said. “[The difference] has been the hard work and consistency since the fall. It’s been the veteran leadership that we have on our juniors and our seniors and our redshirts, and I think it’s the daily fight that the team brings to the field.”
A three seed in the Women’s Lacrosse AE Tournament has never captured the championship game, but BU is prepared to take on the challenge, primarily focusing its efforts on trying to overtake the Great Danes.
“We know that this year we can hang with [Albany] and give them a really good run, especially in a semifinal game,” said redshirt senior attack Jocelyn Penteck. “Having [assistant coach Sierra McIver] on the coaching staff [who used to play for Albany] definitely lights a fire under us, and we want to go out there and show them that she looks better in green than she does purple.”
Binghamton’s semifinal matchup with Albany is scheduled for Friday, May 4 in Stony Brook, New York. The opening draw control from Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium is scheduled for 7 p.m.