As UMBC prepares for its major celebration of its 50th anniversary this weekend, the #retriever50for50 countdown heads into the home stretch, beginning with today's No. 6 "greatest moment" in UMBC Athletics' history.
The event took place on May 13, 2007 in College Park, Md., one of several great moments that UMBC has experienced against the university system's flagship campus.
After a six-year drought, Don Zimmerman's men's lacrosse program made it back to the NCAA Tournament in 2006 by winning the America East title. The 2007 squad actually experienced an up-and-down month of March, dropping four of seven games, including a 13-9 decision at Albany in the league opener.
The Retrievers rebounded in a big way in April, posting a 5-0 mark and defeated Binghamton in the league semifinals. But, in an epic battle in Albany, UMBC dropped a heartbreaking 15-14 decision to the Great Danes, who secured the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
With five losses, the Retrievers were on the bubble for an at-large bid, but were awarded a spot and sent 20 miles down the road to take on 7th-ranked Maryland at Byrd Stadium. The Terps had handled UMBC with relative ease in March, bolting to an 11-3 lead in an 11-7 triumph.
Trailing 4-2 early in the second quarter, the UMBC offense caught fire. Over the next 28 minutes, the Retrievers outscored the Terrapins, 9-1, and led, 11-5, after 45 minutes.
Maryland threw everything they had at UMBC in the fourth quarter, but goalkeeper Jeremy Blevins made six of his career-high (at the time) 18 saves in the final 15 minutes and UMBC came away with a sound 13-9 victory.
Attackman Cayle Ratcliffe, a.k.a "Tugboat", paced a balance offense with four goals. Linemates Drew Westervelt and Andy Gallagher scored two goals each and unheralded midfielders Josh Porcell and P.J. Kimener contributed three points each.
The 2007 Retrievers became the first UMBC team to advance in NCAA Tournament competition and the victory was UMBC's first over a top-ten ranked squad since 2003.
In the other part of the bracket, Delaware upset Virginia, so UMBC appeared to have a favorable match-up to get to the national semifinals. But the physical battle against Maryland took its toll on the Retrievers. Deadlocked at 4-all midway through the third quarter, UD scored a pair of late goals in the stanza and outlasted the Retrievers, 10-6.
That defeat could not detract from the huge amount of support seen in Annapolis that afternoon. The tailgate lots were overflowing with Retriever alumni, faculty/staff and friends as the Retriever Nation came of age that spring.