West Hartford, Conn. – A senior-laden, desperate Hartford Hawks' men's lacrosse team stayed alive to defend their 2016 America East title as they defeated visiting UMBC, 13-8, on Senior Day at Al-Marzook Field at Alumni Stadium.
UMBC (5-7, 3-2 America East) has clinched a berth in the America East Tournament and would be the championship's No. 2 seed with a win over Vermont as they conclude the regular season against the Catamounts on Saturday, April 29. The berth is the Retrievers' first since 2014 as the semi-finals will get underway at regular season champion Albany on Thursday, May 4.
Prior to the noon opening face-off, the men's lacrosse program will honor its eight seniors, competing for the final time at UMBC Stadium.
Hartford (6-7, 2-3 AE) would have to defeat regular season champion Albany and hope for a Vermont victory over UMBC to have earn a spot in the tournament.
UMBC outshot Hartford, 38-27, but UH senior netminder Ryan Vanderford recorded 18 saves in the cage to stymie the visitors.
UMBC sophomore midfielder Billy Nolan (Crofton, Md./Arundel) led the Retrievers with three goals, notching hat tricks in back-to-back games for the first time in his career.
After giving up the game's first goal, the Retrievers took a brief 2-1 first quarter lead on scores by Nolan and senior attackman Max Maxwell (Hamburg, N.Y.) in a span of five seconds with 5:07 to play in the period. But the host Hawks would take command by embarking on a 6-0 run, garnering a 4-2 lead after 15 minutes and extending it to 7-2 before Nolan tallied at the 6:16 mark of the second quarter. A goal by sophomore Gunnar Schimoler (Edgewater, Md./South River) sliced the advantage to 7-4 at the 3:50 mark, but the Hawks' Justin Higgins scored with six seconds to play in the first half to give UH an 8-4 lead at the break.
Hartford would build the lead to 12-6 after three quarters. But UMBC, which would force nine of Hartford's 18 turnovers, battled back to a 12-8 margin. Freshman midfielder Mitch Howell (Laurel, Md./DeMatha) tallied the visitors' lone man-up goal of the game early in the stanza and sophomore attackman Jack Andrews (Arnold, Md./St. Mary's) added a goal with 7:38 to play to give the Retrievers an opportunity to rally.
UMBC won the ensuing face-off, but quickly turned the ball over and UH restored a five-goal lead with 6:21 remaining. Vanderford closed the door, making three saves down the stretch to quiet any Retriever comeback hopes.
Andrews added a goal and two assists for UMBC, while Howell added a goal and a helper. Freshman face-off specialist Jake Brothers won 12 of 24 draws and tied junior LSDM Billy O'Hara for game-high honors with seven ground balls.
In goal, senior Ruston Souder (Pasadena, Md./Chesapeake) made six saves.
Huggins led all players with four goals for Hartford.
The 13 goals allowed by the Retrievers was the most permitted since a 15-5 loss at Johns Hopkins on February 11. UMBC was allowing just 7.8 goals per contest in four previous America East contests.