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UMBC's Rachel Katzenberger leaps over Binghamton's Brianne Arthur as UMBC's Tianna Wallpher follows the ball Saturday.
UMBC's Rachel Katzenberger leaps over Binghamton's Brianne Arthur as UMBC's Tianna Wallpher follows the ball Saturday. (Kim Hairston / Baltimore Sun)

UMBC's women's lacrosse players put the controversy surrounding the suspension of five of their teammates and one of their coaches out of their minds Saturday to focus on winning their first America East Conference game against Binghamton — and it took plenty of concentration.

The Retrievers rallied from two goals down twice in the last 19 minutes and enjoyed a game-winning performance from reserve freshman midfielder Marissa Davey to edge Binghamton, 13-12, in overtime at UMBC Stadium.

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Davey, a Marriotts Ridge graduate, scored five goals — the last four in regulation and the game-winner in overtime — as the Retrievers won their second straight one-goal game and their sixth game in the past seven.

The Retrievers (6-3) have won all three games since five players were suspended March 11 in the wake of a university investigation into alleged threats made by older players against freshmen on a text-messaging group chat. It's their first win since co-head coach Tony Giro was placed on leave Wednesday as the investigation continues.

Players were not made available after Saturday's win, but team captain Lexi Bristow, a senior defender and Broadneck graduate, said in a statement that head coach Amy Slade and assistant coach Alex Mundy kept the team focused.

"We've been trying to focus on the things that we can control and that is playing 60 minutes of lacrosse," Bristow said. "We've had positive attitudes on and off the field and we've really come together. Today was a complete team effort, from the top to the bottom."

Slade said the players haven't had trouble focusing when they're on the field.

"This is a very dedicated, resilient group of kids," Slade said. "They have things going on all the time with social (lives), parents, school, boyfriends, but when they're out on the lacrosse field, they have to be there for 60 minutes and why not get a couple ground balls, a couple goals or a couple saves and have fun doing it. That's how they've been able to do it the last couple weeks."

UMBC athletic director Tim Hall reiterated Saturday that he cannot comment on personnel issues as far as the specific reason for Giro's leave. He also said he doesn't know whether the suspended players will return to the team and that the ongoing investigation will determine that.

Four of the suspended players — senior Alyssa Semones and sophomores Amber Kovalick, Meghan Milani and Mackenzie Reese — apologized Monday night for the messages on the group chat, some of which threatened bodily harm to the freshmen, in a joint statement released through a media relations firm. They said their comments on the group chat were "utterly inappropriate" and "absolutely inexcusable."

Junior Brittany Marquess was also suspended, but in a letter to the team, her mother, Harriett Marquess, said Brittany's suspension was not connected to the group chat threats. She said it stemmed from a disagreement between Brittany and another player earlier in the season and that it had already been resolved.

This was the second straight game in which the Retrievers have had to rally from behind. They came back from seven goals down in last weekend's 12-11 win over Manhattan and were two goals down as late as the 10:55 mark against Binghamton (3-5, 0-1).

In overtime, however, the Retrievers dominated. They won the first two draws, leading to goals by Abby Wilson and Davey in the first 1:31 of the six-minute overtime, which is played out.

UMBC won four of five draws in overtime — three by Caitlin Miller and one by Davey. Two caused turnovers also helped seal the win — one by Rachel Katzenberg after the Bearcats won their only draw and another by Davey with five seconds left to get the ball back after the Retrievers had turned it over.

At the half, the Retrievers led 6-4, but the Bearcats scored four straight goals to open the second half, including two from Renee Kiviat, who finished with three, and one from Sophia Racciatti, who led Binghamton with four goals.

With 10:55 left, Valerie DeNapoli gave the Bearcats an 11-9 lead and they threatened again with 6:25 to go, but freshman goalie Kelsey Major stopped a free-position shot to halt the momentum.

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Each team turned the ball over twice and then Davey finished off a transition goal with 4:21 to go to cut the lead to 11-10. Three minutes later, she tied it with a free-position goal.

Slade said the win was important, because the players executed what the coaches stressed in practice..

"Every win counts," said the former Virginia All-American and the 2004 Tewaaraton Award winner. "Every team in this league competes and whether it's out of conference or in, it feels awesome."

Twitter.com/kdunnsun

B 4 7 1 -- 12

UMBC 6 5 2 -- 13

Goals: B—Racciatti 4, Kiviat 3, Ryan 3, DeNapoli, Williams; UMBC—Davey 5, Nolan 3, Wallpher 2, Milligan, Wilson, Jamison. Assists: B—Kiviat; UMBC—Milligan 2, Wilson. Saves: B—McNulty 7; UMBC—Major 2, Gielner 1.

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