Fall sports wrap-up
By Steve Seepersaud
MEN'S CROSS COUNTRY
Fall 2009 was a season to remember as the squad won its first-ever America East championship. Actually, this year's group was the first Binghamton men's cross country team to win a conference title at any NCAA division level. Junior Erik van Ingen was the first Binghamton runner to win the America East individual title. In fact, he's the first Binghamton runner to earn an individual conference championship since Art Gunther won the SUNYAC meets in 1991 and 1992. The team subsequently finished 8th out of 36 teams in the NCAA Northeast Regional meet. Head Coach Annette Acuff and Assistant Coach Joe Pienta were named America East Men's Cross Country Staff of the Year for the first time in their careers.
The Bearcat streak of six straight trips to the America East conference title game ended this season. Binghamton (9-9-1) was on its home field when it faced UMBC in the America East quarterfinal game and surrendered the game-winning the goal in the 72nd minute of the contest. The Retrievers moved onto the semifinals and the Bearcats' season ended. Binghamton has excelled in the classroom, tying for the fifth-highest team GPA (3.30) among more than 200 NCAA Division I soccer programs during the 2008-09 academic year.
WOMEN'S CROSS COUNTRY
Binghamton placed 7th in the America East Conference meet, held at the University of Vermont. Stony Brook won the team title for the third year in a row. Freshman Rachel Miura was the top finisher for the Bearcats, coming in 10th in the 5,000-meter race with a time of 19:01.80. Miura is Binghamton's first female runner to earn all-conference honors since 2006. The Bearcats squad placed 26th out of 35 teams in the NCAA Northeast Regional meet in Boston.
Binghamton's young team had a good season but, in the end, wasn't able to overcome experience. The No. 2 seeded Bearcats (9-7-2) -- starting four freshmen and seven underclassmen -- lost to top-seeded Boston University (14-5-2) in the America East championship game. The veteran Terriers captured their third straight conference title.
Binghamton up-ended top-seed Albany in the America East tournament to earn its second conference title and an automatic bid to the NCAA national tournament. Lindsey Mueller was named the America East Tournament's Most Outstanding Player with 45 assists, 10 digs, three blocks and a kill. The team's fortunes ended there, as the Bearcats drew perennial powerhouse Penn State in the NCAA first round. The Nittany Lions swept the Bearcats 3-0 en route to an undefeated season and third consecutive national championship.