Last Saturday’s 15-14 overtime loss to Hartford saddled UMBC with a 0-1 start in the America East. The team is just one game behind the Hawks, No. 19 Albany and Stony Brook in the conference standings, which is why coach Don Zimmerman said Saturday’s home contest against Vermont (3-7 overall and 1-0 in America East) is critical.
“That’s the way we’re approaching it,” he said Thursday morning. “You don’t want to go 0-2 in the conference. So with that said, I would say that this is a must-win.”
The Retrievers (3-6) have never begun conference play with an 0-2 start, and a loss to the Catamounts could widen the gap between UMBC and the league leaders. Zimmerman said he wants the players to be even-keeled as they prepare for Saturday’s game at UMBC Stadium.
“We’re 0-1 and now we have an opportunity to play Vermont on Saturday, and it’s going to be a tough game,” he said. “Everybody’s getting better in the conference, and we need to bounce back from a tough loss to Hartford and put our best game on the field at home.”
Zimmerman said he is weighing changes in the starting midfield and close defense. Nine different players have opened games in the midfield, while four different defensemen have started.
The plethora of options give the Retrievers some flexibility in assembling a starting lineup, but Zimmerman conceded that he wouldn’t mind if there were predetermined units for every contest.
“I think I would prefer having set units, but that really depends on the guys stepping up and making that decision for us,” he said. “We have a bunch of guys that are playing at the same level. I wouldn’t say it’s a day-to-day thing, but certainly, it’s a week-to-week thing. My job is to put the best team on the field, and that’s what practice is all about. That’s how we’ve operated all year.”