The Binghamton men’s lacrosse team hosted NJIT in its second America East (AE) match of the season on Saturday afternoon. After starting off hot, leading 8-1 at the end of the first period, BU slowed in the second half as NJIT slowly crawled back. With less than 30 seconds left in the game, the Bearcats led 17-16 as NJIT had possession, looking to tie the score and send the match to overtime. Binghamton, however, managed one final stop and secured the victory 17-16 — extending its win streak to three games and 2-0 in AE play.
“It’s a little bit of mixed feelings,” said Binghamton head coach Kevin McKeown. “I thought, especially having that type of lead, that it wouldn’t be that close at the end. We’ll have plenty to learn from it, but we’ll also be excited that we’re 2-0.”
Right after winning the opening faceoff, just five seconds into the match, senior faceoff Matthew DeSouza ran straight down the middle of the field and scored to put BU (6-2, 2-0 AE) up 1-0 over the Highlanders (2-6, 0-2 AE). The score marked the fastest goal recorded in Binghamton lacrosse history. The Bearcats continued to pour on the offense and put pressure on the NJIT defense as junior midfielder Ethan Insinga, along with sophomore attack Matthew Keegan, found the back of the net.
Not long after, freshman midfielder Gavin Jacobsen recorded his first collegiate goal to put Binghamton up 5-0. With just over three minutes to go, senior midfielder Quinn O’Hara scored to cap off a 6-0 run to start the match for the Bearcats. The Highlanders eventually got on the board with under three minutes to go. However, that was the only goal for them in the quarter — while the Bearcats added two more to their tally and led 8-1 going into the second period.
“[In the first quarter], we won the faceoffs and had a lot of offensive possession,” McKeown said. “The guys are being unselfish and moving the ball well.”
The nature of the second period was more back-and-forth as NJIT began to find its groove. After Binghamton opened up the period with a goal from Insinga, NJIT responded with three straight scores to make it 9-4. The Bearcats went on to score two straight, including a behind the back goal from sophomore attack Gage Adams. Almost immediately, the Highlanders managed to score on the other end and added two more goals to their total, completing another three-goal run. Despite being outscored 7-4 in the period, BU led 12-8 going into halftime.
“We’ve been able to spread the wealth a little bit … we’ve got a lot of guys with double-digit points,” McKeown said.
The second half started with NJIT putting one in the back of the net to cut Binghamton’s lead to just three. Similar to the second period, both teams would go back-and-forth as the Highlanders were on the Bearcats’ tail. Binghamton then scored three consecutive goals, as it increased its lead to six. This would not last for long, as NJIT ended the period on another 3-0 scoring run to trail 15-12 heading into the final frame.
“Credit to [NJIT], I thought they really did a great job in transition,” McKeown said. “They were pushing it hard, and we didn’t get back in time on multiple occasions, and they caught us in some spots there.”
The Highlanders struck first in the final period as BU saw its lead dwindling. With nine minutes to go, NJIT cut Binghamton’s lead to one. With the Bearcats in dire need of a goal, Keegan scored to complete his hat trick, giving Binghamton a two-goal cushion. NJIT continued to fight back as the visitors cut the Bearcat lead to just one once again, and after a Binghamton turnover, another NJIT goal tied the game at 16. The hosts, however, regained the lead courtesy of a goal from Adams. With less than a minute to go, the Bearcats managed one final stop to secure a 17-16 win.
“I’m excited that we came out with the win, especially a day like this,” Adams said. “Everyone’s pushing each other hard everyday, and it’s really important that we keep doing that in practice.”
Adams led the way on offense with six goals and one assist. In addition, Keegan had a six-point day, tallying three goals and three assists. Sophomore goalie Connor Winters also managed 17 saves in the winning effort.
“I thought [Adams] was great,” McKeown said. “I thought he did a really good job finding openings, was cutting really well. Our midfielders are doing a really good job of finding him, and he’s finishing his opportunities.”
Binghamton will head on the road to take on UMass Lowell on Saturday, April 1. First faceoff is scheduled for 11 a.m. at Cushing Field in Lowell, Massachusetts.