Coming off of a 2023 campaign where they finished third in the America East (AE) and earned a trip to the AE semifinals, the Binghamton men’s lacrosse team kicked off its season on Saturday with a 9-8 loss against Jacksonville. After a close game where the two teams were constantly within one goal of overtaking each other, the Bearcats fell short, as they were defeated by one in their season opener.

“We competed well,” said Binghamton Head Coach Kevin McKeown. “But there are things to clean up on each side of the ball … It’s a starting point, but we are going to continue to improve.”

Senior attack/midfielder Liam Ferris, a transfer from Syracuse, started the scoring early for BU (0-1) with an unassisted goal 35 seconds into the match. His early score was answered five minutes later with three quick goals by the Dolphins (1-0). Graduate student midfielder Sonny Imburgia then cut the Jacksonville lead to one with a goal of his own, as the BU trailed 3-2 at the end of one period. This was a sign for things to come, as each team continued to trade goals throughout the game.

“The first quarter, we were still getting our feet wet,” McKeown said. “We gave up a few opportunities that we shouldn’t have, but [junior goalie Connor Winters] made some really great saves and bailed us out a couple of times.’’

Winters’ strong defensive play continued in the second quarter, as he only allowed two goals to keep Binghamton within striking distance. About halfway through the second period, however, the Bearcats found themselves down three goals, but they quickly cut into the Dolphin’s 5-2 lead after junior attack Matthew Keegan and Ferris both found twine to make it a 5-4 game.

“Those are moments where you can either pack it in or keep fighting, and I thought our guys did a good job in continuing to fight,” McKeown said.

To begin the third period, senior midfielder Trey Sofield buried the ball in the back of the net to tie the game at 5-5. Despite several shot attempts on both sides, the rest of the period remained scoreless as neither team was able to get on the board. The game remained deadlocked at five heading into the final period.

“We had the ball with a minute left and a full shot clock, and we were also a man up,” McKeown said. “So it really felt like we were right there — only a couple of plays away [from tying the game].”

The Dolphins broke the tie, scoring two goals in the first minute of the final period to take a 7-5 lead. However, the Bearcats stayed in it as junior attack Gage Adams scored to make it a one goal game. After trading goals once again, the Bearcats trailed 9-7 until senior midfielder Aaron Tebo scored with two minutes remaining to bring the Bearcats to within one score. Despite Binghamton’s best efforts late in the game, Jacksonville maintained its lead, as the BU dropped the first game of its 2024 campaign.

“Offensively, we were able to generate 44 shots,” McKeown said. “I think we had some good looks, but I think our shot selection needs to improve and also finish the opportunities that we had. Defensively, we gave away a lot on the transition. They were able to gain a lot of momentum from a couple of goals in transition after the face-off.”

In his debut, Ferris led the Bearcats’ offense, adding two goals in the losing effort. Defensively, Winters finished the contest with 13 saves.

Binghamton will look for its first win of the season against St. Bonaventure on Saturday, Feb. 17. First face-off is scheduled for 12 p.m. at the Bearcats Sports Complex in Vestal, New York.