Even before UMBC welcomed Mercer to UMBC Stadium in Catonsville for the home opener Saturday, the team understood that it still had nine more games and six involving America East opponents in the regular season.
But there was a noticeable sense of relief after the Retrievers walloped the Bears, 15-4, to secure their first victory of the season after three consecutive losses to ranked programs.
"We definitely needed it," senior attackman Max Maxwell said. "I felt like we really let one go against [No. 12] Richmond [on Feb. 18]. We had plenty of opportunities, and it just felt like nothing was dropping. So against Mercer, I wouldn't say it was a must-win, but you want to win every game, and it felt great to finally get one."
Against Mercer, UMBC had scored nearly as many goals as it had in its first three games (16). And the defense gave up a fraction of the 42 goals surrendered in the losses.
The positive result was a tangible reward for the team's previous efforts, and coach Ryan Moran acknowledged that the victory lifted any pressure off UMBC (1-3).
"You try not to talk about losses or dwell on losses too much," he said. "You try to view them as opportunities to improve, and when you're able to break through and get that win and win in convincing fashion, I think that helps the guys towards their confidence levels."
The win marked Moran's first as a head coach, and sophomore attackman Jack Andrews said the squad was pleased to accomplish that for their rookie leader.
"It's the first win in Coach Moran's career. So that was just huge to get," said the Arnold resident and St. Mary's graduate. "That was a big win for us to help us going in the right direction."
Moran took the accomplishment in stride.
"I'd be lying if I didn't say that it felt good to get a win and my first win especially," he said. "But I was happier for the staff. I know how hard they've been working and even happier for the guys. That was the one thing that resonated the most with me. It was great to win, but it was great to win for the guys and great to win for the staff. So any personal things like having a first win really felt secondary to me."