Towson has dominated this series to the tune of 28 wins and 15 losses with its neighbor to the south, but UMBC has won four of the last six meetings. The Tigers (3-5) have posted all three of their wins in the last five contests, but couldn’t take advantage of a stirring 8-7 come-from-behind win against Navy a week ago in last Saturday’s road game against No. 8 Duke, who coasted to a 12-4 victory. The Retrievers (2-4) snapped a three-game losing skid with last Saturday’s 16-11 defeat of High Point, but are trying to win back-to-back contests for the first time since April 2011. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at UMBC Stadium in Catonsville Tuesday night.
1) Testing UMBC’s Wes DiRito. Wes DiRito has started in each of the Retrievers’ last two games, and the sophomore goalkeeper is 1-1 in those starts. He made 15 saves in the win against High Point, but he might still be a little green around the edges. But Towson coach Shawn Nadelen was impressed with what he saw from game film of DiRito. “I think he’s a goalie that has great composure and confidence,” Nadelen said. “I’ve been watching him play and the way he handles himself in the cage, and I don’t think his inexperience is going to be too much of a factor. He’s got a strong defense in front of him, and he’s got great confidence in himself. We’ve got to do our best to get goals on him early to hopefully get us going and get some momentum on the board, which we haven’t done recently.”
2) Attacking Towson’s man-down unit. The Tigers have allowed opposing man-up offenses to convert 50 percent (13-of-26) of their opportunities. That would appear to bode well for UMBC’s extra-man unit, which is 7-of-8 in its last three contests under four attackmen (seniors Matt Gregoire, Scott Jones and Joe Lustgarten and freshman Nate Lewnes) and two midfielders (senior Scott Hopmann and junior Zach Linkous). “When a team fouls you, you want to make them pay by scoring a man-up goal,” coach Don Zimmerman said. “The personnel is there to go in and get a goal for you and anytime you score a goal, the team gets excited. And when you’re man-up and you don’t get one, that takes a little air out of your bubble and it gets the other team excited. So I think man-up can be a real momentum shifter.”
3) Monitoring UMBC’s midfield. With Jones (12 goals and three assists) and Lewnes (6, 6) leading the Retrievers in offense and Lustgarten (2, 7) and Gregoire (8, 0) not too far behind, it’s easy for a defense to pay a great deal of attention to the attack. But Nadelen said Towson must also pay mind to midfielders like freshman Pat Young (9, 1) and junior Zach Linkous (6, 4), “They’re good, but I don’t think they can draw the majority of it because I think their midfielders do a lot to allow those guys the opportunities to get the shots off,” Nadelen said. “Their middies are good dodgers and they set up well within their movement and offensive schemes. They operate very well, and that allows the ball to cycle through to get opportunities around the crease and around the perimeter for Jones and Gregoire and Lewnes. They’ve got to ability to stretch you when needed with a couple outside shooters. And if you overextend, they can bang it inside to the two attackmen, who can also stretch you as well if they’re on the perimeter. So we’ve got to make sure that we’re paying attention to everyone equally well and that we’re running our game plan the way we know how and execute it effectively.”Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun