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Defensive issues plague UMBC's 17-15 loss to High Point

Don Zimmerman

UMBC’s defense picked an inopportune time to play its worst game of the season.

The Retrievers surrendered a season-worst 17 goals in a two-goal defeat at High Point on Saturday. It was the biggest offensive display for the Panthers (6-2) in their two-year history as a Division I program.

UMBC coach Don Zimmerman said the defense didn’t seem to have the ability to match the energy demonstrated by High Point.

“We looked tired, lethargic, flat, whatever you want to call it,” he said Monday morning. “We seemed to be a step behind both physically and mentally. We didn’t stick to the game plan. We played guys to their strengths and little things like that. We’ve been used to [redshirt freshman goalkeeper] Connor Gordon really stepping up and making some big saves for us, and we didn’t get those. It was one of those days. We practiced yesterday and had a good practice, and now we’re looking forward to tomorrow night against Towson.”

A pattern has emerged in the Retrievers’ contests this year. They are 3-0 when limiting opponents to nine goals or less, but are 0-3 when opposing teams hit 10 goals.

But Zimmerman said no one is panicking over the defensive issues.

“I just don’t think it was a good day for us,” he said of Saturday’s performance. “The important thing is, I think the guys realize that. I think the guys took the loss to heart and the way you see that is what they do in the next practice. Last night, our guys came out and went after each other and were really scrappy. So that always makes you feel better. You’ve got to learn from your past experiences, and hopefully our kids learned that traveling is not easy and you have to be ready and that every team is good.”

UMBC is also 3-1 at home and 0-2 on the road. With a Tuesday night visit to No. 19 Towson (5-2), the team is in the midst of a three-game road swing and a stretch of four of five contests away from UMBC Stadium.

But Zimmerman said he’s not terribly worried about the team’s inability to win on the road.

“There’s a big difference between driving over to Towson and driving six hours to High Point,” he said. “I could have done a better job. We had a late practice on Friday night and we ate dinner late before the game, and if we could do things a different way, we would change that. It’s a process that you learn by. I’ve been doing this for a long time and one of these days, I’ll get it right. I just think that you haver to give High Point credit. They deserved to win. It would have been nice if we had put our best foot forward. We didn’t.”

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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