UMBC (1-1) rebounded from a season-opening loss to Robert Morris by beating Rutgers, 11-7, last Saturday. The Retrievers rode the hot hand of senior goalkeeper Adam Cohen, who made 12 of his game-high 13 saves in the game’s final three quarters. No. 4 Loyola (2-1) suffered its first loss of the season last Saturday when then-No. 3 Maryland scored a 12-10 decision. The Greyhounds have dropped 16 of the 30 meetings in their series with UMBC, but they did win last year’s contest, 13-5. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at Ridley Athletic Complex in Baltimore on Tuesday night.
1) Loyola’s short-stick defenders. Both Maryland and Towson built a game plan around attacking the Greyhounds’ defensive midfield. Loyola was able to outscore the Tigers, but the Terps proved to be too strong and too fast for the Greyhounds. They appeared to sorely miss the presence of senior Josh Hawkins – who hasn’t played this season while serving a suspension for violating a team policy – but coach Charley Toomey wouldn’t say whether Hawkins would return Tuesday night. Maryland and Towson may have provided a formula for future opponents, but UMBC coach Don Zimmerman said the plan is nothing new. “I think that’s just the nature of the game,” he said. “I think everybody attacks the other team’s short sticks. That’s why that’s a very demanding position in the game of lacrosse. People attack the short sticks in hopes of getting the other team to slide and then bang the ball around and look for high-quality shots. So I don’t think that’s any different in this game than any other game that you see in college lacrosse.”
2) UMBC’s transition defense. Even without Hawkins, Loyola still boasts one of the more dangerous transition games. Senior long-stick midfielder Scott Ratliff has already scored twice, and junior short-stick defensive midfielder Pat Laconi posted a goal and an assist in the loss to Maryland. The Retrievers are fully aware of the importance of getting back on defense after either a turnover or a save in their own offensive zone. “Loyola has an outstanding transition game from defense to offense,” Zimmerman said. “We’re going to have to try to eliminate that as best as possible on defense. We have to know their personnel and know what to do and play very good individual and team defense. So we have to be ready to play our game to the best of our ability against a very, very good opponent.”
3) Loyola’s emotion. ESPN analyst Quint Kessenich said he thought the Greyhounds did not play as emotionally as Maryland did last Saturday. That might change Tuesday night as the Loyola players might be just a little irked over whispers that they may not be as strong as initially painted. How UMBC combats the Greyhounds’ anger could be pivotal, but Zimmerman said he’s more concerned about his own players’ intensity levels. “What we need to do in a short turnaround is be able to compete and be a better lacrosse team than we were on Saturday,” he said. “It’s really about us, it’s not about Loyola. We have a tremendous amount of respect for Loyola, but I can’t control what their emotion is going to be or what their sense of purpose is. That’s up to them. We have to decide who we’re going to be that night. Whether Loyola won or lost, we have to be ready to take our opponent’s best shot. That’s what it’s all about.”Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun