UMBC has never lost in 21 meetings with Mount St. Mary's, including the last 16 as Division I adversaries. But the Mountaineers are 2-1 on the road this season, while the Retrievers are winless in two games at home.

Mount St. Mary's (2-5) has lost two in a row and three of the team's setbacks have been one-goal decisions. The starting attack and midfield units have undergone several changes, but the most beneficial might have been the insertion of junior Justin Gosnell in the midfield. In his last three starts, the Aberdeen Havre de Grace graduate who transferred from Harford Community College has five goals and two assists.


UMBC (2-5) has dropped its past three games, including Saturday's 12-5 loss to America East rival Stony Brook. Sophomore goalkeeper Ruston Souder made nine saves in his first career start against the Seawolves. The Pasadena resident and Chesapeake-AA graduate is slated to make his second consecutive start.

Here are a few factors that could play a role in the outcome at UMBC Stadium on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

1) Ground balls. Both offenses have struggled to score goals with the Mountaineers ranked 62nd out of 69 Division I programs at 7.0 goals per game and the Retrievers ranked 65th at 6.0 goals. The units could get some much-needed help via ground balls, but both teams have encountered troubles in that department. Mount St. Mary's has averaged 25.6 ground balls, while UMBC has collected just 20.9 loose balls per game. Retrievers coach Don Zimmerman said the team that has the edge in that department will give its offense more chances.

"Ground balls are, to me, the most important aspect of the game because it involves getting possession," he said. "When you have possession, your team has an opportunity to score and at the same time, you're playing great defense because the other team doesn't have the ball. So I've always believed that ground balls are one of the most important elements of our game."

2) Faceoffs. The Mountaineers rank 47th in the country, winning 45 percent (59 of 131) of faceoffs, and the Retrievers rank 68th at 31.9 percent (43 of 135). Mount St. Mary's will rely on senior Nick Haley (Archbishop Spalding), who has won 48 percent (48 of 100) of his faceoffs, but coach Tom Gravante said the key will be turning those wins into goals.

"You don't always win even if you win that stat," he said. "We've already proven that this year, but it will certainly help. I think we found that out on Saturday. We didn't win the faceoff battle or the ground ball battle, and there were plenty of opportunities to pick up a ground ball and give us more time of possession. The percentages are more in your favor if you can control faceoffs."

3) Turnovers. Both teams have coughed up the ball too frequently, with Mount St. Mary's averaging 14 turnovers and UMBC averaging 14.7 per game. The Retrievers have committed 39 giveaways during their three-game losing streak, and Zimmerman said poor technique and questionable decision-making have contributed to the mistakes.

"We've told our guys that we have to value the ball and possess the ball," he said. "Sometimes that's misinterpreted as meaning, 'When you're on offense, you need to take care of the ball.' We had some turnovers on Saturday clearing the ball. So to me, they can be as damaging as anything. You just have to understand the situation, you have to understand that we don't need guys to go out and make heroic plays. We need guys to go out and make the simple plays on a consistent basis, and I think that will be a key for the game."

Recommended on Baltimore Sun