Men's Lacrosse

Tom Moore guides Binghamton after transferring twice

Courtesy of Binghamton Athletics

Tom Moore arrived to Binghamton after playing for Denver and Jacksonville.

UPDATED: April 21, 2017 at 12:28 a.m.

As snow floated down onto Binghamton’s lacrosse field, Tom Moore trespassed on the turf for the first time. The middle school student had made a familiar trip with his family to Wellsville, New York, to visit his grandparents. But on the way, they made a detour in Binghamton. Moore, his father, and two brothers waltzed onto private property with lacrosse sticks and played catch for a few minutes.

He didn’t know then that he would make his way back to Binghamton nearly a decade later, not to break in but to break records. Moore played one year at Denver and two more at Jacksonville before transferring to Binghamton for the 2017 season. Getting on the Bearcats’ field the first time was easy — returning proved a little more complicated.

“He searched around for a home a little bit,” Rob Moore, Tom’s older brother, said. “Somewhere where things fall in place for him, where he’s happy. That’s what it comes down to.”

Moore, a redshirt senior, has recorded 76 career goals wearing three different jerseys. The West Islip, New York, native ranks in the top 10 in the country for points (5.09), goals (2.91) and assists per game (2.18). Already this year, Moore led the Bearcats to its first Inside Lacrosse Top 20 ranking since 2006. On Saturday, the attackman will lead Binghamton (9-2, 3-1 America East) into the Carrier Dome to challenge No. 1 Syracuse (10-1, 4-0 Atlantic Coast).

Moore’s impact was immediate and, by his ninth game, had etched his name into Binghamton’s record books. He topped the single-season points record (46) and is on pace to own the top single-season marks of goals and assists. He said numbers have never mattered to him, and that he’s prioritized two things over his career: family and best fit.

In 2010, Rob Moore bragged to his teammates at West Islip (New York) High School about his younger brother Tom, a sophomore who played junior varsity. The next year, Tom joined Rob and former Syracuse attack Nicky Galasso on the varsity squad and was a reserve on a team that won the state championship.

After coming into his own senior year, Denver head coach Bill Tierney came calling. Moore chose the Pioneers over Jacksonville and his brother, who played for the Dolphins.

Less than a year later, Thomas Moore, Tom’s father, flew to Denver to try and talk his son out of transferring. Thomas spent the weekend with his son, trying to comprehend why he wanted to leave a perennial powerhouse. Rather than attending a team function, the father and son attended a University of Colorado Boulder football game and, by the end of that night, after they had a long talk, Thomas understood why his son wanted to leave.

Courtesy of Binghamton Athletics

Two days later, Moore told Tierney of his intent to leave. (Through a spokesman, Tierney declined to interview.) Amy Moore, Tom’s mother, loved Denver’s mountains and wished to move there someday. Her son, who declined an offer to play at Cornell, had another place in mind: Jacksonville.

“It was a little bit of a lifestyle change there,” Rob said. “It was a fun atmosphere.”

When Moore told Rob over the phone that he had decided to transfer, Rob was hanging out at Neptune Beach with his teammates. The proud older brother bragged about his sibling, again.

For a while, Jacksonville resembled much of what the brothers had dreamed of. For the first time since they were 12 and 10, respectively, the Moore boys played together. The pair ran the two-man game, leading the Dolphins over St. John’s in overtime and past Michigan a week later, two of the biggest wins in program history. A party on the beach followed each win. Some St. John’s players even snuck out of the team hotel to join.

“(Jacksonville) was the experience of a lifetime,” Moore said. “I’ll cherish that for the rest of my life.”

Soon, Moore’s fun times at Jacksonville came to an end. Rob graduated in 2015 and Moore transferred to Binghamton because then-Jacksonville head coach Guy Van Arsdale, “constantly scolded his players,” according to Rob and Thomas. Rob said he lost respect for the coaches over the years and his younger brother followed. (Van Arsdale could not be reached for comment.)

“That just wasn’t a great fit,” Thomas said. “Academically, it wasn’t great. Rob had graduated. It was one of those things, ‘What am I doing here? My brother’s gone.’ And he wasn’t crazy about the coaching staff. It was just … he was leaving no matter what.”

Amy worried about her son. She noticed Moore looking stressed the night before a game against Air Force on March 28, 2015. She saw him hit his breaking point. During the 18-5 loss, Van Arsdale angrily got in Moore’s ear on the sideline. The player snapped and yelled back at his coach. Van Arsdale promptly benched Moore.

“He couldn’t take the berating anymore, just all the negativity,” Rob said. “That’s the point you knew he wasn’t going to come back.”

Moore’s first year at Binghamton fared better than his last in Jacksonville. When Moore transferred, he didn’t know he would have to sit out a year. Throughout his redshirt season, Moore could not travel with the team due to NCAA rules. And, unlike in Jacksonville, the team no longer celebrated wins with parties on the beach.

The attack focused instead on training. Tom shed 10 pounds and dedicated time to learning his teammate’s tendencies. This year, Moore has 24 assists. The second-best distributor on the team has 12.

In high school, Moore hadn’t starred until his senior year. Five years later, in college, he’s replicating his own path.

“It was a great opportunity for me to come closer to home,” Tom said. “I jumped on it.”

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