Every UMBC sports program has its share of moments and great runs. Many, like the men's soccer and the swimming and diving programs have excelled for extended periods of time.
But no other athletics' program has become identified more with UMBC throughout its history than the men's lacrosse program. From the growth under Dick Watts in the 1970's and 80's to the rise at the Division I level under Don Zimmerman over the last quarter-century, Retriever Lacrosse has been a bedrock of UMBC Athletics.
Hence, there are many moments represented in the #retriever50for50 countdown and several in the top 11. Moment No. 11 occurred on May 2, 1998 – what the Retrievers did on that day had never been done before and has not been accomplished since.
Don Zimmerman came to UMBC in 1994 and meticulously built the program. A freshman-laden 1996 team, which lost 9 of 12, turned into a 9-3 squad, which earned a national ranking late in the 1997 season.
There were high hopes for the 1998 campaign, but losses to Navy (15-12) and Towson (18-15) put a damper on things at the start. A trip to powerhouse Cornell loomed, but the Retriever defense stiffened and UMBC upset the Big Red, 14-9.
The win in Ithaca started an 8-2 run by UMBC, which featured a 12-11 victory over ninth-ranked Georgetown. But the Retrievers were definitely on the outside looking in when top-ranked Maryland invaded UMBC Stadium in the season finale.
The game was tightly-contested, and was tied, 5-5, at intermission, and 8-8, late in the affair. With the crowd of 1,557 looking on, UMBC defenseman Zach Burke charged out of his own end and fed attackman Chris Turner, who put the hosts ahead, 9-8, with 3:36 remaining. UMBC did not let the momentum fade, as midfielder John McDonnell and attackman Dan Marohl added goals in the next 85 seconds and Turner iced the 12-8 victory with a goal in the final seconds.
McDonnell led a balanced attack with four goals, while goalkeeper Andrew Hampson stopped 19 Terrapin shots.
It was UMBC's first-ever and only victory over a No. 1-ranked team in any sport.
However, the Retrievers were not guaranteed a spot in the 12-team tournament. But, less than 24 hours later, with the team packed into the Retriever Club Room in the RAC, a deafening roar went up as UMBC had been tabbed the No. 9 seed and would face No. 8 Georgetown in the championships' first round at Homewood Field.
UMBC lost a heartbreaking 9-8 decision to Georgetown on a rainy day at Homewood, but had clearly established themselves as the new kids in town on the Division I scene. The Retrievers made it back-to-back NCAA appearances in 1999 and have been a prime contender in post-season play throughout the new century.