Goalkeeper Ruston Souder's first start of the season for UMBC didn't begin well as junior midfielder John Crawley needed just 52 seconds to give Johns Hopkins a 1-0 lead Wednesday night. But the junior finished with a game-high 16 saves in a 19-7 loss for the Retrievers.
Souder, a Pasadena resident and Chesapeake-AA graduate, made four stops in the first quarter and played a significant role in UMBC (1-6) trailing the No. 9 Blue Jays (5-3) just 7-6 at halftime.
"It's always about making the first save," he said. "The first one went in, and I knew I've got to make the next one. I made that first one, and that's what really jump-starts it. So once you make the first save, you're off and running. I was just seeing the ball well, getting my hands to the ball. But I've got to give credit to the D guys. They were giving me shots I could see, and when I was bailing them out, they were bailing me out at times."
Johns Hopkins senior attackman Ryan Brown, who scored four goals on 10 shots, was complimentary of Souder.
"He did a good job," Brown said. "Their zone helped. They kind of gave up some outside shots, and they didn't really let up anything inside. He did a good job of cutting down your angles as you were going down the alley. He took away spots that shooters like to shoot at. He really made you hit your spots on the run. He was a good goalie."
The Retrievers have started junior Connor Gordon for four games and sophomore David Pisanic (Boys' Latin) twice, but Souder's 16-stop performance – the most by a goalie within the program this spring – will likely give him another start at Lafayette on Saturday.
"I thought Ruston played a hell of a game," coach Don Zimmerman said. "Ruston's been patient. He's played in some second halves for us. I just feel like between what he's doing between the pipes and his clearing ability, tonight we cleared the ball 14 out of 15 times, which is as well as we've done it all year, and a lot of that is Ruston in the open field. It's also him making saves. When you make saves, you can get up and out and clear the ball. I was real happy with Ruston's performance. I think we have three good goalies who all work hard. We've kind of gone back and forth with who we put in the goal, but I thought tonight was our finest night in the goal with Ruston between the pipes."
Circling back to "Three Things to Watch" …
1) Johns Hopkins' Ryan Brown. Brown (Calvert Hall) has enjoyed the rivalry with UMBC, having scored 16 goals on 38 shots and adding three assists in four career meetings. But he didn't score his first goal Wednesday night until the second quarter and posted three goals and two assists in the second half. The Retrievers employed a zone defense to limit opportunities for Brown and his teammates, and the strategy worked in the first half.
"We found that we played some good zone last week against Stony Brook," Zimmerman said. "So we decided to stick with it. A zone defense can disrupt an offense. And give Hopkins credit. I thought we were playing well. We broke down a few times and gave them their strengths, which really opened up the passing lanes. But give Hopkins credit. They're good players, and they figured some things. Give their coaches credit. They figured some things out at halftime, and they were able to exploit it there in the second half."
2) UMBC's Nate Lewnes. In his last three starts, the senior attackman has scored 11 goals on 25 shots and added three assists. Lewnes (St. Mary's) recorded his 11th career hat trick in the first half against Johns Hopkins, but was shut out in the second frame. Junior defenseman Austin Spencer, who marked Lewnes, said he applied more pressure in the second half to restrict Lewnes' shooting motion.
"He's definitely one of the better shooters I've covered this year," said Spencer, who registered a team-high three caused turnovers and picked up three ground balls. "Their offense seemed to revolve really around him. So I had to keep a close eye out for him. He was really good at finding the open spaces, finding those open lanes. It seemed like their entire offense was looking for him. So I had to keep my head on a swivel, and I had to extend out on him because he was shooting from anywhere, and he was getting good shots off."
3) Johns Hopkins' EMO. After failing to convert on two extra-man opportunities in Sunday's 13-12 overtime loss at Virginia, the Blue Jays righted the ship and scored on both of their man-up chances against UMBC via tallies from freshman attackman Kyle Marr. The unit has now succeeded on 61.5 percent (16 of 26) of its opportunities, and associate head coach Bill Dwan said the key has been using players who have assisted on 15 of those 16 man-up goals.
"It's an unselfish group," he said. "They don't seem to care who scores."