Some teams consider it fortunate to get through a campaign without a spate of season-ending injuries. UMBC is already enduring four of those ailments, and the year has not even begun.
The Retrievers have lost senior midfielder Conor Finch to a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), junior goalkeeper Wes DiRito to foot surgery, senior long-stick midfielder Nathan Klein to a broken neck, and freshman defenseman Pat Dignan to a torn ACL.
All four players could return for 2015 if the NCAA approves medical hardship waivers for each, but the team will have to compete this season without three starters in Finch (five goals and 10 assists in 2013), DiRito (12.25 goals-against average and .451 save percentage) and Klein (24 ground balls and six caused turnovers in 2012) and a promising newcomer in Dignan.
“I feel bad for the kids first and foremost,” coach Don Zimmerman said. “I feel terrible for these guys, especially Conor Finch, a senior. … He’s a senior and you want your seniors to finish strong and have their best year. I thought Conor had a terrific fall for us and came back and was doing well. Then all of a sudden, he goes down with an ACL.”
The loss of those players could be meaningful, but Zimmerman pointed out that the injuries open doors for others to perform. Sophomore Jack Gannon is poised to join sophomore Pat Young and senior Zach Linkous on the first midfield.
Junior James Maxwell and freshmen Connor Gordon and Rustin Souder are battling to start in the net. And senior Matt Reeping is second on the depth chart at long-stick midfielder behind starter Seth Mackin.
Zimmerman said he hopes that the rest of the players on the roster will capitalize on the opportunity suddenly available to them.
“You always want to take a negative and turn it into a positive,” he said. “The negative is we have lost four players. The positive is now there’s an opportunity for other players to step up. As coaches, now we have to become a little bit more creative. … Everybody’s got to chip in because this is the hand we’ve been dealt. You can’t mope about it. You’ve got to move on and figure out a way to overcome it.”