The Binghamton women’s lacrosse team advanced to its second straight America East (AE) championship game with a 13-8 win over UMBC in the conference semifinals on Friday afternoon. The Bearcats and Retrievers were tied at 4-4 at the end of the first quarter before taking a 7-5 lead late in the second. After going up, Binghamton maintained control of the lead, allowing just three goals in the second half en route to its seventh straight win.

“It’s about a mindset,” said Binghamton head coach Stephanie Allen. “We’ve been preparing for this for 364 days. I think it was having that taste of what it felt to be in the championship game last season, [where it was a] bittersweet ending. We’ve been focused on having a different result since May 6 last year, and I know that that’s something that’s been on the minds of our players as well. We’re really eager to get out there and have a different outcome tomorrow morning and look forward to being back in that situation.”

UMBC (9-6, 4-2 AE) opened the scoring, netting a goal at the 10:15 mark, but Binghamton (11-6, 5-1 AE) was quick to respond, as sophomore attack Carla Curth found twine 36 seconds later. The Retrievers then scored twice to retake the lead, but junior attack Olivia Muscolino found the back of the net two straight times. Both teams traded scores yet again, with senior attack Madison Murphy scoring with less than a minute left in the first to knot the game at 4. UMBC found success on draw controls throughout the quarter, winning 6-3.

“I thought UMBC gave us a good test there in the opening quarter in terms of draws,” Allen said. “[Senior midfielder Hayley Weltner] is somebody that we really rely on to make good adjustments … I think she really did an outstanding job of seeing that space out there and putting the ball out of reach from UMBC’s number 12.”

At the 13:38 mark in the second period, following a penalty against Binghamton, UMBC retook the lead with a woman-up goal. The Bearcats were held scoreless for the first 7:52 of the second quarter, as they struggled with the Retrievers’ physical defense. The Bearcats’ struggles were short-lived, however, and they ended the quarter with a 3-0 run that saw Curth and senior midfielders Kristen Scheidel and Emma Conroy each find the back of the net once, taking a 7-5 lead going into halftime.

“We knew this was going to be a physical battle across the board, all over the field,” Allen said. “We’re certainly keeping an eye out on the late shots after shots and really tight physical play.”

The back-and-forth third quarter began with a Retriever goal at the 11:09 mark, cutting BU’s lead to one. The Bearcats and Retrievers then traded goals, and Murphy got on the board for BU. Binghamton ended the quarter with a 2-0 run, making the score 10-7 as it entered the final period of play. Muscolino and Murphy each scored once during the run, and both players completed their hat tricks.

“I think it was personnel awareness, certainly a little bit higher pressure,” Allen said. “I think in the first half, playing a little bit more timid and sinking back into the eight, giving them more space to set up dodging lanes and stuff up top. Once our high defenders were getting out in their zones and applying more pressure, making contact earlier, it was a lot more successful for us.”

Weltner continued Binghamton’s scoring run, lighting up the scoreboard just 46 seconds into the fourth quarter. Soon after, senior attack Gabriella Meli found twine to make it a 12-7 game. The Retrievers struck back, scoring their first goal of the fourth quarter at the 12:10 mark. Despite the lead, BU continued to apply pressure on the UMBC goal, and a free position opportunity saw Scheidel score her second of the night. For the final seven and a half minutes of play, BU maintained its lead and held UMBC to just one goal in the fourth quarter. As the clock ran out, the Bearcats rushed the field, celebrating advancing to the championship game for the second straight year.

“We’re here for the long haul this weekend,” Allen said. “Tomorrow it’s a little bit of focus on recovery, but also on what we need to be better in. We had a chance to watch the UAlbany [versus] Lowell match earlier, and these are opponents that we are familiar with.”

Binghamton will face No. 1 seed UAlbany in the championship game on Sunday, May 5, looking to avenge last year’s loss in the final against the Great Danes. First draw control is set for 10 a.m. at John Fallon Field in Albany, New York.