The UMBC men's lacrosse team opens the 2015 season by taking on fifth-seeded (USILA) Johns Hopkins on Saturday, Feb. 7 at storied Homewood Field. The opening face-off is set for 1:00 p.m. and the game will be broadcast nationally by ESPN3, with Mark Dixon and Quint Kessenich on the call.
UMBC men's lacrosse program has competed in six America East Conference title match-ups in the past nine years, splitting those contests, but falling short of their championship hopes in the last two May clashes. A season ago, star-studded Albany defeated UMBC, 20-11, to capture their second straight league crown.
UMBC, which finished at 8-7 a year ago, will return nine of ten starters and the majority of its specialists from last year's squad.
In 2014, UMBC qualified for its 11th America East championship in 11 league campaigns. The Retrievers won titles in 2006, 2008, 2009 and produced runner-up finishes in 2007, 2013 and 2014. Four of UMBC's five championship games have been against Albany, with UMBC winning match-ups in 2006 and 2008 and dropping decisions in 2007, 2013 and 2014. The Retrievers defeated Stony Brook for the 2009 title.
UMBC started two freshmen and four sophomores throughout the 2014 campaign.
Four returning players produced between 38-43 points in 2014. SO Max Maxwell (15-26-41) led the team in assists, while junior midfielder Jack Gannon (18-23-41) and Pat Young (33-10-43) and junior attackman Nate Lewnes (31-7-38) form the nucleus of the 2015 offensive unit.
UMBC was ranked ninth in the nation with 12.2 goals scored per game. The Retrievers averaged 13.2 goals per game in America East play and 14.8 in their last five contests. UMBC was also 10th in the nation in shooting percentage at 31.7 percent.
Sophomore GK Connor Gordon was ranked 12th in the nation with 11.13 saves per game. Gordon and Maxwell both earned a slot on the 2014 AE All-Rookie Team.
UMBC received votes in the Feb. 2 Cascade/Maverik media poll.
Head Coach Don Zimmerman enters his 22nd season at UMBC and his 29th as a collegiate head coach. Amongst Division I head coaches, the Retriever mentor stands eighth with 228 victories and is 16th in winning percentage at .598 entering the 2015 campaign. In the all-time coaching annuals of Division I lacrosse, Zimmerman is 26th in total victories and 47th in winning percentage, The Retriever mentor has made 13 NCAA Tournament appearances in his tenures at Johns Hopkins (`1984-90) and UMBC (1994-present). His 1984, 1985 and 1987 Hopkins teams earned national titles and he coached the Retrievers to their first NCAA Tournament appearance in 1998.
Scouting the blue jays
Johns Hopkins (11-5, 2014) was selected as the favorite to win the inaugural Big Ten championship in the preseason coaches poll. JHU fell to Duke, 19-11, in a 2014 NCAA quarterfinal contest.
In addition to earning the top spot in the poll, Johns Hopkins had SR LSM Michael Pellegrino, SR A Wells Stanwick and JR A Ryan Brown named as its Players to Watch. Pellegrino was named a Second Team USILA All-American last season, while Stanwick and Brown both grabbed Honorable Mention All-America honors.
Pellegrino led a defense that held 11 of 16 opponents to nine goals or less. Stanwick and Brown combined for 63 goals and 58 assists last season and fueled an offense that averaged just over 12 goals per game. Stanwick is JHU's career active leader in assists (81) and points (137), while Brown counts 57 goals and 75 points to his credit in two seasons.
The Series/Last Year's meeting
Johns Hopkins is one of just two programs that UMBC has faced more than one time that the Retrievers are winless against. UMBC is 0-12 vs. the Blue Jays and 0-2 vs. Robert Morris. The Retrievers are 0-7 at Homewood Field, 0-3 at UMBC Stadium and 0-2 vs. JHU at M&T Bank Stadium.
Fueled by four goals by midfielder Pat Young, the UMBC men's lacrosse team rallied from six goals down to pull within one twice, but could not get over the top, falling to No. 3 Johns Hopkins, 15-8, on March 8 at UMBC Stadium. JHU led, 9-8 after 45 minutes, but outscored UMBC, 6-0, to end the game. UMBC netminder Connor Gordon made a season-high 16 saves to keep the hosts in the game throughout.