Rarely is a late-season game between two winless teams pivotal. But when the Binghamton University men’s lacrosse team visited the University of Vermont on Saturday, one team would be mathematically eliminated from America East Conference tournament contention.
The Bearcats, who gave up eight consecutive goals over the final two periods, became that team, falling to the Catamounts 11-5 for their seventh loss in eight games.
Offensive struggles continued for Binghamton (3-9, 0-4 AE). For the third straight game the Bearcats failed to eclipse seven goals.
BU head coach Scott Nelson attributed the team’s stagnant offense to the good preparation and execution of Vermont (2-10, 1-3 AE). He said the Catamounts shut down BU’s top offensive players.
“The attack’s just not creating. They’re not getting by their guys and making teams slide and we’re just not getting any production out of them,” Nelson said.
Freshman midfielder J.T. Hauck did net two goals against the Catamounts, but Nelson acknowledged the overall struggles of his offense.
“Hauck is still getting the short sticks. We had a couple of nice goals … The attack’s just not creating,” he said. “They’re not getting by their guys and making teams slide, and we’re just not getting any production out of them.”
The defensive effort on both sides held each team in check as both teams struggled to get anything started in the first half offensively. The teams combined for five goals in the half, and each managed just one goal in the second quarter.
The Bearcats trailed 3-2 heading into halftime, but Hauck stepped up to the challenge early in the second half, whipping off two consecutive goals to give Binghamton a 4-3 lead. Hauck, whose pair of goals pushed his season point total to 25, earned America East Rookie of the Week honors for his efforts.
After scoring the first two goals of the second half, the Bearcats allowed the next eight before scoring one last goal in the waning moments of the game. Vermont’s 8-0 run stretched over 16 minutes and both quickly and completely knocked the wind out of Binghamton.
“The defense for [the first] 42 minutes was pretty darn good,” Nelson said. “The three goals we did let up in the first 42 minutes we probably could have done a little better job, but to let up three goals in 42 minutes is pretty great. And then the offense should have been able to get us a little bigger lead and we just couldn’t get it done.”
Binghamton was pushed up against the wall during the 8-0 run and could not seem to get the ball back into the sticks of the offensive players.
“I think that last three minutes of the third quarter when we let up three goals and one with about five seconds to go really hurt us,” Nelson said. “And then they come out and get the seventh goal when we just played really bad defense at the start of the fourth quarter when they went up 7-4; that really hurt. But we ended up playing too much defense. We only had 25 shots on the day and their goalie played really well.”
The Bearcats fell 12 shots short of matching their per game shot average of 37.
Sophomore midfielder Michael Antinozzi recorded his 28th goal of the season, which puts him one shy of the program’s single-season record held by junior Matt Springer, who scored 29 in both the 2010 and 2011 seasons.
With the loss to Vermont, Binghamton closed out its regular season road schedule with a 0-7 record and fell out of playoff contention. The Bearcats are scheduled to finish the regular season this weekend at home against University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
Saturday will be the final one in front of the home crowd for the squad’s seven seniors: Ryan Button, John Clark, Chris Cook, Jeff Donigan, Nick Marshall, Jordan Marra and Ben Waldron.
“We’ve got a great group of seniors who are terrific guys and have been great leaders for us,” Nelson said. “So we’re going to do our best to have them go out on a winning note.”
Face-off is set for 7 p.m.