Lowell, Mass. – UMBC sophomore midfielder Gregg Hauck (Linthicum, Md./North County) scored the game's lone goal in the 72nd minute and junior goalkeeper Billy Heavner (Landisville, Pa.) made it stand up with a career-high eight-save effort as the visiting Retrievers clinched a spot in the America East Tournament with a 1-0 victory at U.Mass Lowell's Cushing Field on Saturday afternoon.
The Retrievers will participate in their ninth consecutive championship and their 11th in 13 league seasons. UMBC improved to 9-5-3 overall and 2-2-2 in league play, while UML slipped to 7-8-1 and 2-3-1 in the conference.
After a trying first 45 minutes, UMBC and UML started to exchange salvos in the second half. Senior midfielder Michael Scott (Fife, Scotland) got a header on goal in the 56' and sophomore midfielder Cormac Noel (Todmorden, England) got off a blast from the right wing, which UML goalkeeper Austin Kroll dove to save. But the River Hawks countered and Heavner made a brilliant stop, coming out to deny Jay Marchand, who was behind the Retriever defense.
Moments later, UMBC earned its first and only corner of the match. Senior back Malcolm Harris (Damascus, Md./McDonogh) drove the ball towards the near right post and Scott flicked it on further. Hauck followed Scott and headed the ball past Kroll from seven yards out to the keeper's left side.
Heavner would make another key stop on UML's leading scorer, Wuilito Fernandes on a header just two minutes after Hauck's third goal of the season.
The UMBC defense tightened up over the final 15 minutes and the River Hawks could not muster any high quality chances.
UML outshot UMBC, 18-10, and Heavner was tested four times each half. He posted his sixth shutout of the season and the 14th of his career to move into sole possession of fifth place on UMBC's all-time list.
Heavner made a pair of outstanding saves to keep the first half scoreless. He challenged and stopped a Nana Osei effort in the fourth minute and made a diving stop of an Augusto Trento longer range effort in the 24'. The Retrievers' best chance came moments later on a cross from sophomore Cormac Noel, but freshman midfielder James Gielen (Edgewater, Md./DeMatha) was just unable to get a boot on it from the six-yard area.
UMBC improved to 3-0-0 all-time versus the River Hawks.
The Retrievers will try to improve their seeding when they host Stony Brook in the regular season finale at Retriever Soccer Park on Wednesday, Nov. 4. UMBC's seniors will be honored just before the 7:00 p.m. kick-off.