Since a loss at UMass Lowell on March 31, the UMBC men's lacrosse program has been in "must-win" mode to achieve their goal of reaching the America East Championships. Starting with a victory over then-No. 1 Albany on April 7, the Retrievers have earned three wins to put themselves in a position to control their own destiny.
UMBC (5-7, 3-2 America East) must defeat Vermont (10-3, 3-2 AE) on the Catamounts' Senior Night in Burlington to qualify for the four-team America East Conference Tournament. The stage is set for Friday evening, just after 7:00 p.m from Virtue Field and the game will be broadcast on ESPN+.
With a win and losses by Albany and Stony Brook, the Retrievers could tie for the regular season title, but could not host the championships, which begin on May 3.
A Glance at the Retrievers: UMBC continued to play suffocating defense and won for the third straight time, defeating Hartford, 8-3, on Senior Day last Saturday before 1,380 fans at UMBC Stadium.
The Retrievers improved to 5-7 overall and 3-2 in America East play. The three-game winning streak for UMBC is its longest since a four-gamer in 2011.
Freshman attackman Steven Zichelli (Severna Park, Md./Severna Park) led the offense versus Hartford by posting his second three-goal game of the season. Junior attackman Jack Andrews (Arnold, Md./St. Mary's) and junior midfielder Billy Nolan (Crofton, Md./Arundel) added a goal and two assists apiece. Freshman goalkeeper Tommy Lingner (Fort Salonga, N.Y.) continued his superb play, coming up with nine saves in 59 minutes of work.
Senior LSDM Billy O'Hara (Davidsonville, Md./South River) and Zichelli earned America East Conference Defensive Player of the Week and Rookie of the Week respectively. O'Hara celebrated his Senior Day at UMBC Stadium by causing a season-best four Hartford turnovers. O'Hara is tied for 15th nationally with 1.75 caused turnovers per game and now has 58 in his career.
Over the previous two weeks, Lingner has earned multiple awards for his dominating play. On April 10, he was named America East Conference Defensive Player and Rookie of the Week. He was also honored by The Baltimore Sun, which tabbed him as the National Player of the Week and by the USILA, which selected Lingner to their Team of the Week. Lingner repeated as AE Rookie of the Week on April 17.
Nolan leads the squad with 17 goals and 28 total points. Zichelli is close behind with 15 goals and 23 total points.
The Retriever defense is now tied for second place in the nation along with Army West Point, allowing 7.67 goals per game. UMBC has permitted just five goals in the past two weeks.
Lingner's goals against average has dropped to 7.16, now second-best in the nation, while his save percentage has risen to 55.2 percent, the 12th-best figure through games of April 22.
UMBC has knotted a school record by allowing a combined total of five goals in back-to-back games. It also occurred in 1999 and 1973. The last team to allow a total of five was Bryant, which achieved the defensive wizardry in the final two games in April of 2016.
A Glance at the Catamounts: Sophomore goalkeeper Nick Washuta recorded a career-high 19 saves, but the 13th-ranked Virginia Cavaliers scored a pair of goals in the final 2:30 to take a 10-9 win at Vermont (10-3, 3-2 AE) last Saturday.
The setback is the second consecutive one-goal loss for the Catamounts. After starting out 10-1, they fell, 8-7, in double overtime at Stony Brook on April 14. The Catamounts were ranked No. 16 nationally before that contest. UVM has clinched a spot in next week's America East Tournament.
Washuta is ranked third nationally with a 60.3 save percentage and is fourth with a 7.64 GAA. Senior midfielder Ian MacKay, a recent first-round MLL selection by the Chesapeake Bayhawks, leads UVM with 32 goals and 48 total points. MacKay was a Third Team All-American in 2016 and red-shirted in 2017.
Six Catamounts have reached double figures in goals, as UVM nets 11.1 per game. They are also ranked No. 9 on defense, permitting 8.07 goals per contest.
The Series/Last Year's Meeting: UMBC won the first 11 meetings between the two squads before Vermont rallied to stun the Retrievers, 11-10, in April of 2015 at UMBC Stadium. UVM secured its first win in Burlington in 2016, as they prevailed, 14-10. The Retrievers snapped that two-game slide and improved to 12-2 all-time versus the Catamount with a 10-7 victory last April.
UMBC scored the game's first four goals and never trailed as the Retrievers concluded the regular season with a 10-7 victory over Vermont in warm conditions at UMBC Stadium. Attackman Ryan Frawley (Mountain Lakes, N.J.) posted his second four-goal game of the campaign and finished with a season-best five points.
Nolan scored two goals, while attackman Steven Partlow and Andrews each had a goal and an assist for the victors. Jake Brothers won a season-best 65 percent of the draws (13-of-20), while O'Hara gobbled up a game-high six ground balls.
Up Next: With a win over Vermont, UMBC would be the No. 2 or 3 seed in the America East Championships and play in the first semi-final game on Thursday, May 3 at Albany or Stony Brook.