Immediate Release: May 1, 2004
Contact: David Berman (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Bearcats stun Albany in closing minutes for regular season title
Cavallo scores with 2:49 remaining to lift BU to 9-8 victory, 6-0 conference mark
ALBANY, N.Y.--Sophomore attack Phil Cavallo (Cedarhurst, N.Y./Lawrence) scored the game-winning goal with 2:49 remaining, and Binghamton (9-5, 6-0 America East) completed an improbable comeback in the final minutes to edge Albany 9-8 and claim the America East regular season title in front of 1,215 fans on Saturday night at University Field. Binghamton trailed 8-7 with just 4:46 remaining in a wild fourth quarter, but netted the game-tying and game-winning goals in a span of just 20 seconds to earn the school's first-ever America East regular season title in any sport.
"We knew at the beginning of the season that every single game in the conference would come down to the end," Binghamton head coach Ed Stephenson said. "We had a lot of close games, but our determination was outstanding and it made the difference for us. Although we made a lot of youthful mistakes in tonight's game, we never gave up and hustled on every play."
The teams entered the decisive final period tied at 6-6 after sophomore midfielder Matt DeCirce (Binghamton, N.Y.) tied the game for the fourth time when his 18-yard shot bounced in with just 10 seconds left in the third quarter. Binghamton took a brief lead midway through the final stanza, as Cavallo scored his first goal on a fastbreak with 8:21 left in the game for a 7-6 advantage.
The Great Danes, however, tallied twice in a span of 59 seconds to take an 8-7 lead with 4:46 remaining. That lead proved no safer than the Bearcats earlier advantage, and an Albany penalty with 3:34 remaining proved costly. Freshman attack Nate Kerstein (Rochester, N.Y./Irondequoit) seized a crossing pass from Cavallo with 3:09 to play and scored the game-tying goal. Freshman Matt McNamara (Oswego, N.Y.) became the next hero, as he picked up a ground ball after Albany lost possession of the ensuing faceoff. McNamara then spotted Cavallo and posted his third assist of the game when Cavallo scored in the empty net.
"They are scrappy, physical and very quick defensively," Albany coach Scott Marr commented. "We were sloppy in the fourth quarter, and had too many turnovers. We had a lead, didn't increase it, and they came back on us."
There were five ties and five lead changes in the game, with three of those lead changes coming in the final 8:21 of the contest. Binghamton continued to live dangerously, as it won its third straight game in which the opposition had more shots, ground balls and faceoffs. The Great Danes outshot their visitors 34-21, but time and again were stymied by Bearcat sophomore goalie Kevin McKeown (Brewster, N.Y.), who had a season-high 14 saves.
"We wanted to keep it a controlled game instead of a run-and-gun style," Stephenson said. "Our goalie saved us whenever we had breakdowns defensively."
Kerstein, Cavallo and freshman midfielder Jeff Santucci (Cicero, N.Y./Cicero-North Syracuse) all scored two goals for Binghamton, while sophomore attack Brian Chaapel (Penn Yan, N.Y./Penn Yan Academy) and freshman attack Rob Williams (Fulton, N.Y.) netted one goal apiece. Cavallo, Chaapel, Kerstein and freshman midfielder Chris Bernard (Beverly, Mass.) all distributed one assist.
The Bearcats now carry the #1 seed into next week's America East Championship and will host #4 seed Stony Brook (9-5, 4-2 AE) on Wednesday at 4 p.m. at the East Gym Complex. Binghamton hosted Stony Brook in its conference opener earlier this season, and came away with a 9-7 victory over the Seawolves. In the other semfinal, #2 seed UMBC takes on #3 seed Albany. If the Bearcats advance to the title game, they would host the winner of the UMBC-Albany game on Saturday, May 8 at 1 p.m.
"We have positioned ourselves in the place we wanted to be going into the conference tournament," Stephenson added. "From here on out, every game is single-elimination and we will take it one game at a time, the same way we have all season long. It will be another barn-burner when we see Stony Brook on Wednesday. We have one game to win, and if we get past that one, we'll deal with anything else."
NOTES: Head coach Ed Stephenson's squad is in its third season of competition since upgrading to the varsity and Division I levels during the 2001-2002 season ... Binghamton has won four postseason America East titles: Men's Swimming and Diving (Winter 2003), Men's Tennis (Spring 2003), Golf (Spring 2003) and Men's Soccer (Fall 2003) ... Men's lacrosse becomes the school's third team to host the conference tournament, following in the footsteps of golf and men's soccer.
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