The graduation of Scott Jones and Joe Lustgarten was expected to impact UMBC's attack, but the unit figured to be in reliable hands with a pair of starters in senior Matt Gregoire and sophomore Nate Lewnes returning.
The attack, however, struggled mightily in the Retrievers’ 14-3 season-opening loss to No. 11 Maryland on Saturday. Gregoire, Lewnes and freshman Max Maxwell combined for nine shotsbut did not record a goal or an assist and totaled six turnovers.
Coach Don Zimmerman admitted that he was surprised that the starting attack went without a point.
“I think we expect our attack to put the ball in the goal,” Zimmerman said Thursday morning. “To the credit of Maryland’s defense, they did a very good job, and they’re a heck of a unit. But I still felt like our attack could have and should have gotten us some goals.”
Last year, Gregoire posted 28 goals and four assists, and Lewnes added 14 goals and 10 assists. But Jones (35, 6), Lustgarten (12, 20) and midfielder Conor Finch (5, 10, but out this year after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament) were veterans who provided calm and leadership.
Gregoire is the only senior on the starting offense. Lewnes and midfielders Pat Young and Jack Gannon are sophomores, and Maxwell and midfielder Dylan McDermott are freshmen.
That inexperience came into play in Saturday’s game against the Terps (2-0). Sometime in the first quarter, the team was called for stalling, starting a 30-second clock to put a shot on goal. Zimmerman said that ruling seemed to influence the offense into playing faster at the expense of looking for high-percentage chances.
“I felt like it put our guys in a rush mode in the first half,” he recalled. “It seemed to me that every time we came down on offense, we immediately went to a dodge and took the first shot, not the best shot. That was something we discussed with our guys and realized that despite what I felt to be an early timer on call, these things happen, and you just have to stick with the game plan and understand that 30 seconds is still a lot of time to work the ball around and work for a good shot. That’s something we addressed – just being patient, sticking with the game plan, and maintaining poise.”
UMBC will welcome Monmouth to Retrievers Stadium on Saturday in its home opener, and Zimmerman said he expects a motivated attack on the field.
“There’s nobody more disappointed than the guys on the team, and that’s a good thing,” he said. “If it was just me saying that the coaches were disappointed, that’s one thing. But when your players feel that disappointment just as much – if not more – then that’s a good sign, and I can tell you that our players are very disappointed after Saturday. No excuses, but they were disappointed. We expected to play better, and we didn’t and that’s where the disappointment came. On Monday, we didn’t come in dragging our tails. We came in ready to go back to work and understand that we have another opportunity this Saturday against Monmouth in our home opener.”