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UMBC at Mount St. Mary's men's lacrosse: Three things to watch

UMBC has won all 17 meetings with Mount St. Mary's and is 7-0 in Emmitsburg. The Retrievers are 1-3 on the road, while the Mountaineers are 2-1 at home.

UMBC (2-7) has dropped four of its last five games including Saturday's 10-4 loss to Hartford. The defense seems to have been solidified by the insertion of Ruston Souder (Chesapeake-AA) into the starting lineup. The junior goalkeeper has posted 10 or more saves in each of his last three starts, and his .510 save percentage is .014 points below his career high.

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Mount St. Mary's (5-4) has won four of its last six contests, but fell, 15-10, at Bucknell on Friday. Senior goalie Frankie McCarthy is expected to make his second consecutive start for sophomore Matt Vierheller (pulled hamstring). McCarthy is 1-1 as a starter this spring, balancing his six-save outing against the Bison with a 13-stop performance in an 11-8 victory at Georgetown on March 1.

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

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1) Mount St. Mary's man-up offense. The Mountaineers have been much improved on offense, averaging 10.9 goals this season. The unit reached the double-digit mark again on Friday, but the extra-man offense whiffed on 5-of-6 opportunities. Prior to the game, the unit had converted on 50 percent (10-of-20) of those chances, and coach Tom Gravante said the team can't afford turnovers like it did on two man-up situations against Bucknell.

"Extra-man opportunities are like foul shots," he said. "You've got to make them. Throwing the ball away is like standing at the foul line and just launching it out of bounds. The worst-case scenario we should have in an EMO situation is, we don't get a shot, and we maintain possession and go to 6-v-6. I watched the film. We got some shots, their goalie made some saves, but we just can't turn the ball over, and we did that twice."

2) UMBC's faceoff unit. Only two other teams in Division I have fared worse at draws than the Retrievers, who have won just 33.5 percent (71-of-212). They have sorely missed junior Garrett Hasken, a defenseman who claimed 47.2 percent (17-of-36) of his faceoffs and picked up 14 ground balls before sustaining an unspecified head injury. But Mount St. Mary's has won 49.3 percent (104-of-211) of its draws, which could give UMBC coach Don Zimmerman some hope.

"It's something that we can set our sights on and say, 'Look, both teams are at under 50 percent facing off. So here's a real battle for us, here's an opportunity,'" he said. "And I'm sure their coaches are telling them the same thing. This is when the players have to say, 'OK, here's an opportunity for us. What are we going to do? Who's going to get those tough 50-50 ground balls?'"

3) Mount St. Mary's defense. In their first three losses, the Mountaineers had allowed an average of 9.7 goals, but Bucknell exposed the defense for 15 goals. Although UMBC was held to a season-low four goals by Hartford on Saturday, senior attackman Nate Lewnes (St. Mary's) has notched 18 goals and four assists in his last five starts, and junior attackman Max Maxwell has added four goals and 10 assists over the same span. Gravante said Mount St. Mary's can help itself by chasing down ground balls and keeping them away from the Retrievers.

"We have to pick up ground balls and win time of possession," he said. "… They're very good on offense. They're really quick and slick with real good sticks. Coach Zimmerman, he's a Hall of Famer. He's a college lacrosse icon, and he's going to have a squad."


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