The Binghamton University men’s lacrosse team has played three conference games, and with a loss at University of Hartford on Saturday, it has lost all three. With only two regular season matches left, if there were ever a time for the Bearcats to step up, it would certainly be now.

The Bearcats (3-8, 0-3 America East) found themselves in a difficult predicament after their third consecutive conference loss Saturday, an 11-7 defeat at the hands of University of Hartford (4-8, 1-2 AE). A win would have propelled Binghamton into fourth place in the conference (the top four of six teams qualify for the postseason), but now the team finds itself sitting in the basement of the America East along with the University of Vermont Catamounts, who are next up on the Bearcats’ schedule.

On Saturday, the Bearcats entered Hartford still without a road win in 2012 and promptly surrendered five straight goals to the Hawks in the first 16 minutes of play, a type of sluggish start that has become common for the Bearcats. The match became quite the game of runs when Binghamton scored the next four goals to pull within one at halftime, and then Hartford blasted the Bearcats with four more goals in a row to widen the gap permanently.

“I think we have a habit of doing that,” Bearcats head coach Scott Nelson said after the loss. “They scored on their first possession, they got a couple early on us and they dominated the first quarter. Then we dominated the second quarter and outshot them [21-2]. It was [due to] some real defensive lapses in the first quarter; we missed some slides and we just didn’t do a great job. But in the second quarter obviously we out-hustled them completely and did a real nice job. And then they got the run to start the third quarter, and we never recovered from that.”

Binghamton had difficulty capitalizing on a wave of 10 penalties against the Hawks, resulting in a total of eight man-up opportunities. The Bearcats scored on just three of those chances.

“They got some slashes, a couple late hits,” Nelson said of the Hartford penalties. “But our extra man [unit] has got to do better than 3-for-8. We’ve got some guys who can shoot the ball, and we had a couple chances and we didn’t put them in. A couple guys missed some shots they should be making on extra man.”

Leading Binghamton on the stat sheet was junior Tyler Perrelle, who tallied two goals and an assist. His three points vaulted him up to a tie for second on the Bearcats’ all-time points scoring list with 83 career points. Sophomore Mike Antinozzi, who led the entire conference in goals earlier this year, scored just once on a whopping 13 shots. Despite tallying 15 more shots, two fewer turnovers and six more extra man opportunities than Hartford, Binghamton was not able to seal the deal.

After a 2-2 start to the season, the Bearcats have since gone just 1-6 and remain winless on the road and in conference play. Looking ahead to the final two games of the season, Nelson emphasized the need for his first midfield line of Perrelle, freshman J.T. Hauck and Antinozzi to step up.

“We’ve got to get the first midfield back to scoring goals,” Nelson said. “Perrelle, Hauck and Antinozzi have got to get back to scoring goals; they were so good at that up until a couple games ago, and now they’ve kind of gone cold a little bit. So we’ve gotta get them back in the action; they have to play like they did earlier in the year when they dominated some games.”

Binghamton has also struggled in net; Nelson made the move from senior Jordan Marra, who has a 2-4 record in goal this year, to junior Kraig Heston, who stopped just seven of the 18 shots he faced.

“We’ve got to get some good play in the goal,” Nelson said. “We’ve been a little inconsistent in goal, so we’ve got to get [better] there.”

The Bearcats’ next match is a pivotal one at Vermont on Saturday, which also sports a 0-3 conference record. If Binghamton falls, it would be virtually impossible for it to make the America East tournament. Nelson spoke of his worry regarding the fact that the team has yet to win away from home in six tries this year, knowing that this match is critical.

“We have to get better at winning on the road, and I don’t have an answer for that right now,” he said. “I think a lot of it has to do with talent level — we’re even with a lot of these teams, and then they have an advantage in their home. Until we become a dominating team, we’re going to have to play almost perfect to win on the road.”

The Bearcats are scheduled to take on Vermont at 3 p.m. on Saturday.