One week after falling to St. John’s 15-6 in their final game of nonconference play, the Binghamton men’s lacrosse team suffered a 10-9 loss to Merrimack in overtime to open America East (AE) conference play. After trailing 6-0 after the first quarter, the Bearcats outscored Merrimack 9-3 in the next three quarters to send the game to overtime. Merrimack scored first in sudden death overtime to hand Binghamton the loss.

“I thought we did a great job battling in the last three quarters,” said Binghamton head coach Kevin McKeown. “I think we responded to a 6-0 lead, in any conference game that’s gonna be tough, so I’m proud of the way we fought back, but we were disappointed with how the game started for us.”

Merrimack (3-5, 1-0 AE) scored the first goal within their first minute of play to take an early lead. Binghamton (2-5, 0-1 AE) only got off six shots in the first quarter, and was unable to find the back of the net. The Warriors went on to net three more goals in the period without a response from the Bearcats to take a 4-0 lead going into the second quarter.

“I thought we did a good job of changing up how we were shooting and changing plans on the [Merrimack] goalie,” said McKeown. “[Merrimack’s] goalie started off really hot, so we just needed to get some plays in order to start building some momentum. Unfortunately, that happened pretty late so we weren’t able to come up with the win.”

To open up the second quarter, Merrimack scored two more goals to grow their lead to 6-0. At the 5:03 mark in the period, Binghamton stopped the bleeding with a goal from sophomore attack Colin Delay. Binghamton added two more goals starting with senior attack Liam Ferris finding the back of the net. Shortly after, with BU utilizing its second man-up opportunity, junior attack Matthew Keegan scored to cut Merrimack’s lead to 6-3 going into halftime.

“We always want to start our offense with good hard dodges, which makes their defense slide or at least compact a bit,” said McKeown. ‘I think we did a good job playing off of that and finding some high percentage opportunities.”

Coming out of the half, Binghamton made it a four-goal run as junior midfielder Thomas Kelly found twine at the 11:05 mark. Not long after, the visitors got back on the board to retain a three-goal lead over Binghamton. A minute later, the Bearcats capitalized on their fourth man-up opportunity of the game with Ferris scoring his second goal of the game. With 31 seconds left in the quarter, senior midfielder Ethan Insinga took advantage of a quick clearance from Binghamton’s defense and cut Merrimack’s lead to one, as the Bearcats entered the fourth quarter down 7-6.

“We played great team defense,” said McKeown. “[It was] as good as we have played defensively [this year]. [Junior goalie Connor Winters] came up with some big saves when there were some gaps there, and [Merrimack] got some good opportunities, so I’m proud of the way we played there. When you go down that much you need to do it on both ends of the field, it started with the stops, and we were able to carry that momentum into some great goals.”

The fourth period opened with six shots from the Bearcats and five from the Warriors. The stalemate was broken with 7:05 left in the period after junior attack Gage Adams scored with an assist from Delay to tie the game at seven. Merrimack soon regained the lead with a goal of its own. Six seconds later, after winning the face-off, senior face-off Ross Chazanow, scored to tie the game at eight. The back and forth continued as Merrimack scored with 2:19 left. However, Adams found the back of the net during the final minute of regulation to tie it at 9-9 and force overtime.

The sudden death overtime period lasted just 34 seconds. After Merrimack won the initial face-off, the visitors scored on their first possession to win the match over Binghamton 10-9.

“We’re gonna make sure we continue to push forward, and we want to make sure we get those good starts,” said McKeown. “I think good starts in practice can lead to good starts in games, so we’ll make sure the guys are fresh and ready to go next Saturday.”

Binghamton allowed just three goals off of 21 shots in the second half after facing an early deficit. Winters continued his seven-game streak with 10+ saves. Two Bearcats had multiple goals in the game with Adams and Ferris each scoring twice.

BU will continue its AE slate against NJIT on Saturday, March 23. First face-off is set for 1 p.m. at Lubetkin Field in Newark, New Jersey.