Youth was well represented on the field for UMBC this past spring.
A number of freshmen saw significant playing time for the Retrievers (4-10 overall and 1-5 in the America East). Attackman Jack Andrews (St. Mary's) played in 13 games including 10 starts and ranked second on the team in assists (15) and third in points (29), and midfielder Billy Nolan (Arundel) played in 14 contests including 13 starts and registered four goals and five assists.
Other freshmen who earned starts included midfielders Ryan Baker (seven goals and one assist) and Pat Clipp (5 G, 3 A), attackmen Pat Brennan (1 G, 2 A) and Zach Kalas (1 G), defensemen Tomas Rodriguez (17 ground balls and six caused turnovers), Cooper Cuje (2 GB, 1 CT) and Ian Junge (1 CT). It was a series of welcome-to-college-lacrosse moments for the rookies.
"You hate to throw any player in there before he's ready, but we've never shied away from playing freshmen here at UMBC," said coach Don Zimmerman, who spoke before announcing his retirement on May 2. "It's just the way it is. Every kid wants to play and sometimes it's trial by fire and you get in there and you're going to make mistakes, and we understand that. As long as the guys are working hard and trying hard in practice, we know they're going to make mistakes. Freshmen make freshmen mistakes, and I think we saw that this year. Now what we're counting on is these freshmen coming back as sophomores, and they're a year older, a year wiser and more developed. They understand the system, they understand the competition and what it's like, and they continue to grow and develop. They're excited about doing so."
Many of the freshmen did not taste the success they enjoyed in high school. But Zimmerman said he hoped that even a season-ending 15-14 overtime loss to then-No. 5 Albany on April 30 would provide a lesson for the freshmen.
"I think another positive about that Albany game was even though we ended the season with a loss, the young guys can say, 'Hey, we were right there,' and they were right there in a number of games," he said, referring to four losses by three goals or less. "So this is what gets them to work harder over the summer and continue to develop physically and work on their game and come back seeing that there's a lot of potential on this team. It is going to be up to these young players to continue to work and develop over the offseason."