As troubling as the season-opening three-game losing streak was, at least the Mount St. Mary’s men’s lacrosse team could take solace in the play of an offense that had begun to show encouraging signs.
The Mountaineers finally made that offensive production count as they rolled over visiting UMBC, 16-7, before an announced 309 at Waldron Family Stadium on Friday.
The 16 goals marked the fourth time in as many games that Mount St. Mary’s (1-3) had reached double digits in scoring, and it is the first time since the program’s Division I history began in 1989 that the team has scored at least 10 goals in each of its first four games. The 51 combined goals are also the highest four-game total to start a season in the school’s Division I history.
“I think we have a lot of talent on our team, and we realize that and that we have to play together to do well,” said junior attackman Chris DiPretoro, who had four goals and an assist. “We worked really hard in the fall and over the break. … We’re trying to build off that success, and I think today, we showed that.”
Sophomore attackman Brenden McCarthy led all scorers with seven points on two goals and five assists, and redshirt sophomore attackman Stephano Mastro had career highs in both goals (five) and points (six).
Even senior short-stick defensive midfielder Bennett Zaba got into the act, setting up two of Mastro’s goals in the first half. Zaba’s contributions as well as fourth-quarter goals off the opening faceoff and after a Retrievers turnover just over the midfield line highlighted a recent team-wide emphasis on attacking opponents in transition.
“Last year, we didn’t do it too much,” McCarthy said. “We kind of tried to hold the ball and stay stagnant, and we saw what happened last year. So we’re trying to build off of that and keep moving forward. Transition’s a big part of today’s game.”
The Mountaineers don’t play a single senior on offense, starting a junior and two sophomores on attack and two sophomores and a freshman in the midfield. That youth might spell disaster for some teams, but Gravante said the players worked hard in the offseason to meet standards set by the coaching staff.
“Last year, we were young in some places, and we didn’t have what I like to call the culture that we have this year,” he said. “The guys have really bought in to sharing the ball and supporting each other. It’s fun to watch.”
In recent years, the offense seemed to be tasked with playing not to make mistakes and relying on the defense to squeeze out victories.
DiPretoro said the focus has since shifted as the young offense finds its footing and chemistry.
“I think it gives us some confidence and some leeway because if the defense gives up a couple goals, we can rely on our offense to back them up and get back the lead,” he said.
Mount St. Mary’s broke a 2-2 deadlock late in the first quarter with five consecutive goals over the final 16:21 of the first half. Any thoughts of a comeback by UMBC (1-2) dissipated after the Mountaineers scored five of the first six goals of the fourth quarter. Freshman goalkeeper Luke Mutterer made seven saves for his first career win in his first career start.
Sophomore attackman Ryan Frawley paced the Retrievers with three goals, and freshman attackman Trevor Patschorke (Severna Park) chipped in two goals and one assist.
But a defense that had surrendered only 13 goals in its first two games had few answers for the Mountaineers. UMBC coach Ryan Moran dismissed any notion that Mount St. Mary’s had flown under the radar.
“They’ve gotten double digits on every team they’ve played, and it’s not like those teams were slugs,” he said, referring to No. 19 Towson, Delaware and Richmond. “So we knew we had our work cut out for us – not only in the six-on-six set but offense off the faceoff, offense going from defense to offense. They’re very talented, and they can score, that’s for sure. I question whether our guys believed us. I don’t know. I think we’re pretty talented defensively.”
UMBC 2 0 2 3 — 7
Mount St. Mary’s 3 4 3 6 — 16
Goals: U—Frawley 3, Patschorke 2, Andrews, Keller; M—Mastro 5, DiPretoro 4, Haggerty 2, McCarthy 2, Doyle, Frankeny, Mangan. Assists: U—Nolan 2, Patschorke; M—McCarthy 5, Bethke 2, Zaba 2, DiPretoro, Doyle, Haggerty, Mangan, Mastro. Saves: U—Lingner 5, Pisanic 1; M—Mutterer 7.