Ryan Smith finally delivered on Don Zimmerman's message.
The junior attackman resuscitated the UMBC men's lacrosse team's postseason hopes with a goal 53 seconds into overtime to cap a four-goal rally that lifted the Retrievers to a 6-5 decision over Binghamton in an America East tournament semifinal at UMBC Stadium last night.
The top-seeded Retrievers (11-3) earned a school-record 10th consecutive win and will meet Albany in the tournament final tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. The second-seeded Great Danes (8-7) defeated third-seeded Stony Brook, 12-9, in the first semifinal, bouncing the Seawolves (7-7) from the tournament for the fourth consecutive year.
Tomorrow's winner receives the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
Smith's second goal of the game was a play designed during a timeout after UMBC had won the opening faceoff. Smith, who was standing behind the cage, curled around the right post, beat freshman defenseman Derrick Danieu by at least a step, and fired a sinking shot at Bearcats goalkeeper Larry Kline.
Kline appeared to have caught a piece of the ball, but it squirted between his legs and trickled into the net, sending the pro-UMBC crowd of 1,235 into a frenzy.
"I just came around on the left side and stuck it low," said Smith, who leads the Retrievers with 29 goals. "It bounced around the goalie's legs a couple times and went in."
Nearly as scripted was the placement of the shot, according to Zimmerman, who had beseeched his players to aim low at Kline (11 saves).
"I told them that before halftime, and that's one of the things that we talked about at halftime," said Zimmerman, whose team has won six consecutive overtime decisions. "Their goalie was very good high. ... But we did tell our guys to start shooting the ball low because he was lunging a little bit at the high shots. Some nights, they listen better than others."
UMBC's bid for a third consecutive trip to the tournament final and first championship since 2006 appeared bleak after fourth-seeded Binghamton (4-8) broke a 2-2 tie with a three-goal spurt to assume a 5-2 advantage with 11:49 left in the fourth quarter.
The Retrievers responded, getting scores from sophomore midfielder Kyle Wimer, Smith and senior midfielder Terry Kimener in a 3:09 span. Kimener's goal with 6:21 left in the game was particularly fortuitous as Kline turned back two point-blank shots, but the rebound kicked off of Danieu's leg into the net.
"We came together and realized that we had to pick it up and get it going," said Wimer, who led all scorers with three points on two goals and an assist. "We got one goal and the momentum carried. The guys on the sideline started feeling good, and we just used that momentum to bring it back."
Sophomore midfielder Steve Carlson paced the Bearcats with two goals, but committing 25 turnovers and winning only five of 13 faceoffs proved to be Binghamton's downfall.
"We struggled in the offensive end," coach Ed Stephenson said. "We weren't able to maintain the ball in the offensive end. We had some turnovers -- forced and unforced -- and those things can come back to bite you at the end of the game."
Binghamton 1 1 2 1 0 -- 5
UMBC 1 0 1 3 1 -- 6
Goals: B--Carlson 2, Boyce, Marshall, Rurey; UMBC--Smith 2, Wimer 2, Kimener, Latham. Assists: B--Mulheron; UMBC--Kimener, Wimer. Saves: B--Kline 11; UMBC--Blevins 9.