After wasting an 11-8 advantage in the final nine minutes of the fourth quarter, UMBC needed a critical stick save by redshirt freshman goalkeeper Connor Gordon to kill a six-on-four, man-down opportunity in overtime.
The Retrievers then got a goal from sophomore midfielder Pat Young with 9.6 seconds left in the extra session to edge visiting Stony Brook, 12-11, at UMBC Stadium in Catonsville on Friday night.
The win lifted the Retrievers to 5-4 overall and 1-0 in the America East Conference, which is pivotal if the program hopes to qualify for the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2009.
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“It’s huge,” coach Don Zimmerman said. “It’s amazing what this conference play means. It means everything. I think if you talk to any coach in any conference, you’ve got the first half of the season and then you’ve got the conference. And for us, the conference is our ticket to postseason play.
"The guys get excited. The teams know one another. There are no secrets. You saw tonight that they go after it. It’s just great to be 1-0 in conference. That’s a huge step to be 1-0 and not 0-1. That’s a huge step, and that’s why this game is so important tonight.”
Circling back to “Three Things to Watch” …
1) Starting attack fuels Seawolves. The trio of sophomores Matt Schultz and Brody Eastwood and junior Mike Rooney did not disappoint. Eastwood led all scorers with five goals, Rooney recorded one goal and three assists, and Schultz chipped in one goal and two assists. But when Stony Brook needed a play from its top unit in overtime, Rooney’s high attempt from the slot on that six-on-four extra-man opportunity was snagged by Gordon, and UMBC scored on its ensuing possession.
“Two men down, we don’t practice it much, but I felt like I had an opportunity to make a huge save,” said Gordon, who finished with a game-best 15 stops. “And I just knew that if I did, I knew we’d have the energy, the extra courage to put it home like Pat did.”
2) Retrievers man-down defense pitches shutout. The Seawolves entered the contest ranking third in Division I in man-up offense after converting 57.1 percent (20-of-35). UMBC’s man-down defense hadn’t been particularly strong, as opponents had scored on 42.9 percent (12-of-28) of their opportunities. But the unit blanked Stony Brook on all four of its extra-man opportunities, and coach Jim Nagle credited Gordon for unnerving his man-up offense.
“The goalie was real active, and I thought it kind of got us out of our fundamentals,” Nagle said. “He made some big saves on the man-up. The one at the end, we’re two men up and right on top of the crease, and he makes a huge save. So, hats off to him. I thought he made two or three big saves on our man-up unit that were obviously key.”
3) Faceoffs didn’t hurt. The Seawolves won 15-of-27 draws, and freshman Kyle Rowe outdueled Retrievers senior Phil Poe, 14-12. Freshman Jay Lindsay won the other faceoff for Stony Brook.
But Poe scored his second goal of the season after winning a draw in the second quarter and generally did a yeomanlike job of making Rowe work for his wins.