UMBC has split its last two contests, and the starting goalkeeper for both games has been sophomore Wes DiRito.
DiRito was on the losing end of a 13-7 setback to Johns Hopkins on March 8, but the Odenton native who graduated from DeMatha earned his first career victory as the Retrievers battered High Point, 16-11, last Saturday.
DiRito succeeded senior Adam Cohen, who started the first four contests of the season en route to a 13.33 goals-against average and a .412 save percentage. DiRito's numbers (a 12.44 goals-against average and a .472 save percentage) are only slightly better, but coach Don Zimmerman said the coaching staff agreed that DiRito warranted an opportunity.
"We felt we needed to give Wes a shot, and we started him against Hopkins," Zimmerman said Monday morning. "I thought he did a pretty good job. He made some nice saves. It's always a tough start when you get our first start at Homewood Field against Hopkins. So we came back with him against High Point, and he had 15 saves. I thought he did a very good job not only saving the ball, but clearing the ball and commanding the defense. So at this point, Wes is our starting goalkeeper."
Aside from their physical differences – DiRito is 6 feet and 185 pounds, while Cohen is 5-7 and 170 pounds – DiRito brings a certain calmness to the cage.
"I think Adam is a more animated goalkeeper. Wes is more of a position goalkeeper," Zimmerman said, adding, "I think [DiRito] sees the ball well, plays good position, and directs the defense in a good way."
While DiRito may represent a change in the net, Zimmerman insisted that the defense has not had to make many adjustments with the new goalie.
"We haven't changed our defense," he said. "We've just had a different goalkeeper in the goal, and I think Wes is doing a good job directing the defense. With each and every game, the defense seems to be coming together and meshing better. So I don't think there's a big change there."
In addition to DiRito, the defense has started sophomore Mike Dahl on close defense in each of the past two games. Dahl started for junior Trey Cover against Johns Hopkins and freshman Zach Esser against High Point.
"He gives us a nice inside presence," Zimmerman said of Dahl. "He's one of our best communicators. He went to [Mount] St. Joe's and is a tough kid, played football and lacrosse. We just like his presence inside. He really does talk well, and communication's such an important key for the defense. We feel he gives us strength there."