Coming off of a Midwest road trip that produced more injurie than victories, UMBC's battered men's lacrosse team welcomed yesterday's 19-5 win over the visiting Keydets of the Virginia Military Institute.
For the Retrievers, who suffered losses to Michigan State and Notre Dame, as well as the loss of three players including senior stalwart defenseman Grady Marshall, yesterday's victory at UMBC Stadium was a move in the right direction.
"It's over with and hopefully it's behind us now," said UMBC coach Dick Watts, who has had to juggle his lineup with the absence of junior midfielders Vince Lacey (knee) and Kevin Dickie (ankle). "Offensively, we were trying to control the ball, take our time and not have the turnovers which have been a problem all year. We did things today that we've been practicing and that we're supposed to do, and we did them pretty well."
Junior attackman Jason Smith played well by anyone's standards, scoring a game-high six goals and assisting on another for the Retrievers (4-2). Stewart Walker, a junior midfielder from Perry Hall added four goals and one assist and Jamie Batley was the leading point-getter with three goals and five assists.
UMBC, which will try to end a six-game losing streak against Penn State when it plays host to the Nittany Lions at 2 p.m. Saturday, never trailed the Keydets (3-3) and took the lead for good with 7:10 left in the first quarter when Smith scored on a crisp pass from Sam Walker.
An unassisted goal by Batley and a 15-yard bullet into the upper right corner of the net by Sam Walker put the hosts in front 4-1 at the end of one quarter.
Three straight goals by Stewart Walker gave UMBC a 7-1 advantage with 7:13 remaining in the half. Senior midfielder Spencer Gill, who scored four first-half goals in the Keydets' 13-10 win over UMBC last season in Lexington, Va., scored VMI's only extra-man goal, despite seven chances.
The Retrievers had five extra-man opportunities and converted on four of them.
Smith provided all the third-quarter scoring. His three goals gave the Retrievers a 12-3 lead and provided VMI fans with an excuse to leave early. Those who stuck around until the end, saw the Retrievers tack on six fourth-quarter goals.
UMBC outshot VMI, 46-16, owned an 18-8 advantage in faceoffs and fielded 89 ground balls to VMI's 75. Retrievers goalkeeper Steve Gorski recorded 10 saves before being replaced by fellow freshmen Sacha Fraiture and Matt Madsen.
"You have to give every bit of credit to UMBC because they were hungry for this game and they wanted it more than we did," said VMI eighth-year coach Doug Bartlett.
VMI 1 2 0 5 -- 5
UMBC 4 5 3 7 -- 19
Goals: V -- Peters 2, Gill, Feltman, Graham; U -- Smith 6, Walker 4, Batley 3, Fujiwara 2, Chance 2, Walker, Frye. Assists: V -- Westfall, Gill, Deegan; U -- Batley 5, Lamdin 2, Lloyd 2, Smith, Walker, Frye , Walker, Wehland, Chance. Saves: V -- Cameron 13, Weatherly; U-- Gorski 10, Madsen 0.