Scott Jones finished with two goals in No. 2 seed UMBC’s 19-8 loss to No. 3 seed Albany in Wednesday night’s America East tournament final, but his impact was barely felt at UMBC Stadium in Catonsville.
Jones, who entered the contest leading the Retrievers in both goals (34) and points (38), scored the game’s first goal just 27 seconds into the first quarter. But he didn’t score his second one until 12:30 remained in the fourth quarter.
The Great Danes shadowed Jones with a short-stick defensive midfielder, essentially daring him to dodge – which is not his strength. Coach Scott Marr said defensive coordinator Liam Gleason noticed that vulnerability in the teams’ regular-season meeting in which Jones scored four goals, including the game winner in the 17-16 overtime decision on April 21.
“He really hurt us last time, and we also realized that he wasn’t much a dodger in their game plan. He was more of a finisher,” Marr said. “So we thought if we could take away opportunities from him with the short stick in his face all day, we could kind of frustrate him a little bit and not get him the ball. And then we took strengths away from some of the other midfielders and made them go to their weak hand. It was a great strategy by Liam Gleason, our defensive coordinator, and it worked great.”
Senior defenseman Travis Lyons said the defensive strategy against UMBC also entailed forcing Jones’ teammates – many of whom are right-handed – to go to their left hand.
“They scored something like 14 down the right-hand alley,” Lyons said. “So today, we said that if they were going to beat us, they’re going to beat us from the left-hand alley, and that’s what we made them do.”
Junior midfielder Scott Hopmann, sophomore attackman Matt Gregoire and sophomore midfielder Zach Linkous each scored twice, but coach Don Zimmerman said the offense seemed to self-destruct as Albany shut off Jones.
“We prepared for that, but I just felt like we’ve depended on him so much this year, and when you take him away, that really did force our other guys to adjust,” Zimmerman said. “I also thought we kind of got away from the game plan. Just because they cut one guy off doesn’t mean that you can’t stick with your offense a little bit. I think we lost our poise a little bit.”
*The Great Danes (5-10) may have one of the nation’s most potent starting attack units in senior Joe Resetarits and sophomores Miles Thompson and Ty Thompson. That trio combined for 11 goals and three assists Wednesday night after amassing 12 goals and six assists in the teams’ regular-season meeting. Miles Thompson said the players have developed an unspoken cohesion. “It’s been two years now that we’ve been working together,” he said. “We got that chemistry in the first year and just know where each other is. We know what our strengths are and what our weaknesses are, and we go for the strengths.”
*Albany earned a rematch with No. 1 seed Stony Brook, which edged Hartford, 9-8, in the other conference tournament semifinal. The Seawolves nipped the Great Danes, 12-11, last Saturday, which should make the scouting report for Saturday’s tournament final simple, right? “We have a six-hour bus ride ahead of us and with the adrenaline going on right now, I don’t think any of the coaches will be sleeping,” Marr said. “We’ll make some adjustments on the way home. We’ll watch some video. We have all of our computers and games with us. So we’ll be able to get a game plan together. What’s good about it is, we just played them last week. So it’s still fresh, and the good thing about it is, we lost, and when a team loses, they usually make more adjustments than the winning team.”