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UMBC star Pat Young living up to eighth-grade expectations

Two years ago, a teacher from The Chapin School in Princeton, N.J., returned a letter that Pat Young wrote as an eighth-grader. In the letter, Young asked his future self whether he was playing lacrosse and what college he was playing for.

"So, it's been a goal of mine to play Division I lacrosse for a while," said Young, a junior midfielder for UMBC. "Once the [football] recruiting came around, I started to sway back and forth, but I think from the jump, I knew that I wanted to play lacrosse in college."

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Young had made good on what he envisioned in eighth grade, becoming a three-year starter for the Retrievers (2-3), who host America East Conference rival Binghamton (1-3) at UMBC Stadium Saturday at noon. In 35 career games, he has 72 goals and 22 assists, and has scored a point in 33 of those games.

Young is six points away from becoming the 32nd player in school history to reach 100 points and would become the first junior to accumulate 100 points since Drew Westervelt in 2006.

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ESPN lacrosse analyst Mark Dixon said Young has been the program's go-to guy since he stepped foot on campus for the 2013 season.

"He's the leader," said Dixon, a former Johns Hopkins midfielder. "He could play first midfield anywhere in the country for anybody. That's how good he is."

Young was equally good in football at Christchurch School in Saluda, Va., drawing looks from Maryland, Virginia, Virginia Tech and North Carolina State for his prowess as a running back, wide receiver, defensive back and punt returner.

But 6-foot-2, 215-pound Young — whose broad shoulders and boulder-sized biceps have earned him the nickname "Beefy" from his teammates — was dissuaded by his older brother Tamai's experiences at Villanova, where he underwent meniscus surgery and suffered a couple of concussions. After visiting UMBC, Delaware and Stony Brook, he chose the Retrievers because he thought he could play immediately.

Young also wanted to follow a path blazed by role models such as Johns Hopkins' Kyle Harrison and Virginia's Shamel and Rhamel Bratton, playing a sport widely noted for its absence of players of color.

Young, who is African-American, said he enjoys encouraging minority youth players at offseason camps he works at.

"In terms of being a minority in the sport, I think it's a great opportunity for me to be a leader," he said, "and be an example and show kids that, 'Hey, we're not the most dominant race, but that shouldn't hold you back from playing. There's no reason why you can't step onto this field and dominate."

Because of his age, position and ethnicity, Young has been compared to Duke's 6-4, 240-pound junior midfielder Myles Jones, one of several leading candidates to win the Tewaaraton Award, an honor given to the top college player in the country. Young, who said he and Jones have met a couple of times, doesn't shy away from the comparison.

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"Obviously, we're two totally different people and two totally different players," Young said. "But for two black males to be in the game and for us to be compared, I think that it's wonderful. And it keeps my competitive spirit going because I have somebody to chase after. Obviously, he's won two national championships and is on the Tewaaraton watch list. He's a great player. I'm very proud of what he's doing. But I'm on his tail. I want to be where he's at."

Young, who returned as the Retrievers' leader in goals with 33 last season, leads the team in assists (five) and points (12). His five assists are already half of what he posted in 2014.

UMBC coach Don Zimmerman said Young's development as a feeder is an encouraging sign of his growth as a player.

"A lot of times when a player comes from a high school program, he's asked to do it all," Zimmerman said. "That happens at a lot of programs. Now you transition into a higher level where your teammates all have the ability to handle the ball and play the game. So you have to learn how to spread the wealth, move the ball. If you move the ball to a teammate, there's a good chance he's going to move the ball back to you. I really think this year, especially now in our season, I really have seen Pat try to step up and be an effective leader."

Redshirt senior midfielder Conor Finch said playing on the same line with Young is fun.

"He's obviously a very good player, and he takes a lot of pressure off of the rest of the offense," said Finch, a Boys' Latin graduate. "He's got a good outside shot. You know if you beat your man and get him the ball, there's a good chance you're going to get an assist because he's got a real good shot from the outside."

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Young said he is comfortable in a leadership role, but also acknowledged he is open to blending into the background when any of the team's nine seniors take the field.

"I can lead in different ways," he said. "It doesn't necessarily have to be vocally or making the game-winning goal or scoring 55 goals. It can be leading by example or working hard on the field during practice. I'm just finding my niche on the field and going with that."

edward.lee@baltsun.com


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