UMBC’s 16-12 victory over Hartford Saturday in a clash between America East foes was built on the 5-0 advantage the Retrievers sprinted out to in the first quarter. The team’s 7-2 lead in groundballs in that same stanza was a positive sign of the players’ focus, according to coach Don Zimmerman.
“I always say that within the first five minutes, you watch your team go after groundballs and that’s a pretty good indication of their readiness,” he said Monday afternoon. “I thought our guys were tough on groundballs and got a lot of the 50-50 groundballs, which allowed us to gain possession. And I thought our offense was on the same page and playing hard and making good decisions, and we were able to get out to that lead.”
UMBC’s 31-24 advantage in groundballs appeared to be the product of the team’s increased scrutiny earlier in the week on improving the players’ ground game.
“I would hope that played a role, but I also think it comes down to the guys stepping up and understanding the importance of getting the ball,” Zimmerman said. “It was a big conference game against the defending champion and it all adds up. But they are still the ones that have to go out there and get it done. The fact that we emphasized it in practice just let them know how important we feel it is to the outcome of the game.”