After defeating No. 3 Vermont in its America East (AE) semifinal matchup on Friday, the Binghamton women’s lacrosse team advanced to the AE championship game on Sunday, looking to secure their first-ever AE championship against No. 1 Albany. The Bearcats went back and forth with the Great Danes for the majority of the match but ultimately fell short, as they were defeated 14-13 by the Great Danes, bringing their historic season to an end.

“I just thought it was a really competitive match and two teams that deserve to be in the championship game,” said Binghamton head coach Stephanie Allen. “For our team’s overall first time being in an [AE] championship, I thought we handled the pressure. I thought we did what we needed to, to come back and compete for the title at the end but just fell short.”

After nearly eight minutes without a goal from either team to start the match, Binghamton (11-6, 5-1 AE) got on the board when sophomore attack Marisa Tancredi found the back of the net off a lob from senior attack Kenna Newman. However, the Great Danes (12-6, 6-0 AE) began to find their groove, notching a 3-0 run to close out the frame. The Bearcats managed five shots on goal during this run, but were unable to convert, as they faced a two-goal deficit going into the second period.

Binghamton got the scoring started early in the second period as junior midfielder Kristen Scheidel and sophomore midfielder Abigail Carroll each netted a goal to even the game at three, within the first two minutes of play. The run continued for the Bearcats as senior midfielder Isabella Meli found the back of the net, putting Binghamton up 4-3. However, just under a minute later, Albany responded with a score of their own to even things up at four. Later in the frame, Newman and Carroll proceeded to lead a 2-0 run, giving the Bearcats a two-goal advantage, but the Great Danes closed the period out with two more scores of their own. Entering the half, the game was tied 6-6.

“It was a 0-0 game basically and we were in a similar position on Friday,” Allen said. “We knew we needed to make some adjustments at the draw circle and just better communication with our draw crew. We were putting in in the area that we wanted to early on, but just didn’t have the right communication between the three and between the 30s so they did a tremendous job.”

In the third period, Albany retook the lead with a free position goal, but sophomore attack Olivia Muscolino responded by finding the back of the net to tie the game back up. Later in the frame, the Great Danes retook control of the game with a 4-0 run. However, the Great Danes’ run was halted by Carroll as she managed to convert on a free position opportunity. Not long after, Meli followed this up with a free position goal of her own, cutting Albany’s lead to just two going into the final frame.

“They’re a gritty group,” Allen said. “One of the things that we pride ourselves in is the hustle plays out there. We talked a lot going into this weekend that we didn’t need hero plays, but we needed hustle plays and I think that’s something that they really embraced in the second half … So whether we’re up by one or down by four, you know, we’re gonna play with the same gritty intensity that you’ve seen from this group all year.”

Binghamton built on its momentum from the end of the third quarter as junior midfielder Hayley Weltner and Muscolino both found the back of the net, less than two minutes in, allowing Binghamton to tie the contest at 11. Albany followed up this up with a goal of its own, but Meli’s third goal of the day evened the game once more. While Albany responded with another score to retake the lead, Weltner sank a free-position shot to tie things up at 13. However, this would be Binghamton’s last score of the day as Albany scored to take a 14-13 lead over the Bearcats with just under three minutes to go. Despite the Bearcats’ last-minute efforts, they were unable to convert on a goal to send the game to overtime, as they fell to the Great Danes 14-13.

The Bearcats’ loss against the Great Danes brings their season to an end. Despite being picked fifth out of seven teams in the AE preseason coach’s poll, Binghamton’s historic season has concluded with its first-ever AE championship game appearance, best conference record in program history at 5-1, most overall wins in a season with 11 and most consecutive wins with seven. In addition, Allen was named AE coach of the year, with a program record of eight Bearcats earning all-conference honors.

“We just talked a little bit today after the game about there being unfinished business and bringing that same mentality and belief that we had all season but with more polish to the 2024 campaign,” Allen said. “We [have] a lot of [returning] results-producing players out there and players that can help make a huge impact on this program. So [I’m] just really excited about the future. Although today was not the result that we wanted, the future is certainly bright for this group.”