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UMBC's run of 11 straight appearances in the America East tournament ended in April after the team was mathematically eliminated from postseason contention. It was a humbling fate for a program that has long prided itself on success, and that is the reason why coach Don Zimmerman said he will not use the absence as motivation in the offseason.

"I shouldn't have to use it. It should speak volumes," he said. "We've got good kids, and I think they have good intentions. They work hard, but hard is a relative term. If you watch some of these teams that are advancing and playing in the postseason, it just seems that these guys play at a really hard pace consistently, and I think that's something we have to get to. I shouldn't have to use this to motivate our players. The motivation has to come from within, and that's something we've addressed. It starts in the weight room, it starts with our academic responsibilities."

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Zimmerman prefaced many of his comments by saying that he and his coaching staff must set the tone and make improvements to help put the players in positions to succeed. But he also pointed out that there was a leadership vacuum among the Retrievers (5-8 overall and 1-5 in the America East).

"All along, people were saying we had nine starters returning, and that could be misleading," he said. "The 10th starter was Matt Gregoire, and I think we found out this year how important he was -- not only to our offense, but to our team. I thought he was a tremendous leader and production-wise, he had a terrific year. But I think we really didn't have a leader on the offensive end, and that's where we struggled throughout the year.

"So what we need to do is come up with a leader or two to try to solve that issue for next year. The other thing is losing [faceoff specialist] Phil Poe was a big loss. I think we did get better as the year went on with faceoffs, and I give [former long-stick midfielder] Nathan Klein kudos for stepping up and really embracing that role and doing a great job leading the younger guys."

Zimmerman said he has identified several players on the current roster who can emerge as leaders -- one of whom is junior attackman, Arnold resident and St. Mary's graduate Nate Lewnes.

"Nate Lewnes is a guy who comes out to practice every day and gives it his all and does so in games as well," Zimmerman said. "I think he tries to lead by example. I just think he needs to be a little more vocal and more demanding of his teammates. But first and foremost, when you talk about a leader, he's going to be a guy who leads by example, and I think Nate Lewnes best exemplifies that on our offense."

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