By many measures, Ryan Moran's first season as UMBC coach proved invigorating and successful.
Although the 2017 team finished 6-8 overall and 4-2 in the America East, the Retrievers tied for a second place in the league. Although UMBC lost, 9-4, to Binghamton in a semifinal May 4, the team still enjoyed its first postseason appearance since 2014.
Moran acknowledged that he did not have many preconceived notions in his rookie debut after serving as the offensive coordinator at Maryland and Loyola Maryland.
"It was really just every day committing as a staff to try to do a couple little things to gain a step," he said. "We didn't want to plateau. We wanted to improve. That was really the only focus we had. My expectations for wins or losses, none of that was really there. I just wanted to hopefully steer the program in an upward trajectory. Luckily, it got us to 6-8, which some people are saying congrats on, but I think, 'Well, it's still a losing record.' Obviously, we want a better record, and we want to continue to have success in the America East. But the first thing I think of every morning is that the other coaches want to kick our butts. So we've got to figure out a way to keep that No. 2 seed. I think it's kind of an accomplishment that maybe went overlooked in our conference when you see how we only had two guys be second-team all-conference, and we apparently were the second-best team in the league."
While the program's improvement might not have weighed heavily with the other eight coaches in the voting for the All-America East first team, Don Zimmerman, Moran's predecessor, took note of the job that Moran and assistant coaches Jamison Koesterer, Neil Hutchinson and Joe Bucci had done.
"I thought Ryan and his staff did a really good job, and I felt the kids did a really good job as well," said Zimmerman, who worked as an analyst for ESPN this past spring. "That transition is not easy. Ryan Moran as a first-year head coach comes in, and this is his opportunity to put his stamp on a program, and I did follow the team. I watched them online, I saw their Vermont game at home, I went to senior day to support those seniors who our staff recruited. So I think UMBC took some nice strides, and I think the players adapted well, and that's not always the case. So I give credit to the players and the coaches for making some nice strides."