A painful case of shin splints prevented Zach Linkous from playing in UMBC’s 14-5 victory over Richmond on March 1 and limited him to a little time during man-up situations in Saturday’s 15-8 loss to No. 2 Johns Hopkins, but the senior midfielder bounced back nicely on Tuesday night.
Linkous (St. Paul’s) recorded two goals and one assist in the Retrievers’ 15-6 thumping of Mercer and did not appear to be affected by his injury.
“I thought he looked really good,” coach Don Zimmerman said Thursday morning. “I think the rest helped him. We ran him with Grant Searfoss and Dylan McDermott, two freshmen, on the second unit, and I thought Zach really stepped up and showed some great leadership and some great play. I think he had two goals and an assist and really helped us in the fact that we were able to run two midfields effectively.”
Linkous dodged the initial fear that the pain in his shins was related to stress fractures.
“What happens with those is athletes try to play their way through it, but with those, what you really need at a certain points is to just rest,” Zimmerman said. “So we did that. He got treatment, he got the rest that he needed.”
Zimmerman said he likes the configuration of the second line with Linkous, Searfoss and McDermott. Linkous has three goals and two assists in essentially three games, including one start.
“I like the way the midfields are right now,” Zimmerman said. “We have two effective midfields, and the fact that Zach is a senior and is able to provide leadership for the two freshmen is a really key element. You’ve got to run two offensive midfields, and certainly with the performance that we got out of the second unit on Tuesday, it’s a midfield that I think can be very effective for us.”
It also helps that the first line has been playing well. In UMBC’s last three contests, sophomore Pat Young has posted seven goals and two assists, sophomore Jack Gannon has six goals and four assists, and junior Ty Kashur – who has shifted from attack – has three goals and two assists.
Zimmerman said Kashur playing on the starting midfield gives the offense some options.
“I think Ty having some experience on attack helps because if we do decide to run some what they call big-little behind the goal with a midfielder and an attackman, now we’re got a guy who is used to playing behind the goal, and I think he’s playing well,” Zimmerman said. “Ty has been patient, he’s paid his dues, he’s waited for his opportunity, and he cashed in.”