Senior attackman Nate Lewnes scored two goals in UMBC's 9-8 overtime win at America East foe UMass Lowell on Sunday and dropped from No. 1 in Division I to No. 5 in goals per game.
Only Brown's Kylor Bellistri and Dylan Molloy, Robert Morris' Luke Laszkiewicz and Marist's Joseph Radin have averaged more goals than Lewnes' 3.3 rate, and UMBC coach Don Zimmerman acknowledged that he wonders what might have been if the Arnold resident and St. Mary's graduate had not been forced to sit out three games because of a bout with mononucleosis.
"I think about that a lot," Zimmerman said Tuesday. "At one point, he was leading the country in goals scored per game. Teams have adjusted their defenses accordingly, and he's still very productive. Any player hates to miss time due to injury and for Nate to miss a month of his senior year, it was tough on him. But he couldn't do anything about it. What I see is that Nate came back strong. He didn't feel sorry for himself. He waited until he was cleared, and he came back strong. To me, that's just an indication of the type of person that he is."
Zimmerman noted that the 5-foot-9, 180-pound Lewnes dispelled preconceived notions about what the prototypical attackman should look like.
"I think there is that notion out there that you have to be 6-1, 6-2 and 180, 190 to play lacrosse at the Division I level," Zimmerman said. "But there are plenty of terrific players playing this game that don't meet those specs. You can't measure a player's heart, and I think Nate plays with a big heart. He competes, he's tough, and he can shoot the ball. He's worked hard throughout his career at shooting the ball. These things just don't happen. Guys who become prolific scorers do so because yeah, they have talent, but they also have a work ethic. They put in the extra time to get those skills to that level, and I can tell you that's the case with Nate. Hard work pays off."
With 109 goals in four seasons, Lewnes is three goals away from tying Brendan Mundorf and Drew Westervelt for sixth on the program's all-time goals list. Zimmerman said Lewnes has cemented his legacy with the Retrievers.
"He'll rank right up there," Zimmerman said. "… I would say Nate will certainly be remembered as one of our top scoring threats in program history."