UMBC’s 8-7 upset of No. 5 Maryland Tuesday night at UMBC Stadium in Catonsville was powered by a timely offense, strong play from junior goalkeeper Adam Cohen and consistent success at faceoffs.
Just as invaluable was the defense’s ability to kill off three extra-man opportunities the Terps were awarded. As Maryland (3-1) discovered, scoring on the Retrievers’ man-down unit is a task easier said than done as they have blanked opponents on all seven extra-man chances this season.
Junior defenseman Sam McKelvey said the key has been a re-emphasis on constant movement to befuddle opposing shooters.
“Our biggest thing is flying,” the Davidsonville native and South River graduate said. “Just keep flying as fast as you can towards the crease and back in and back out and try to create as much confusion on the offensive end as much as possible so that they take longer. That, in turn, gives us more time to kill the penalty.”
UMBC has enjoyed 22 extra-man opportunities, scoring on five of them. But the man-down unit has been a pleasant surprise for coach Don Zimmerman.
“I’ve always believed that man down is one of the most challenging and exciting aspects of the game,” he said. “You’re asking five guys and your goalkeeper to play against the other team’s top offensive guys, and it’s really an attitude of scrambling and hustling. Look, you’re going to make mistakes, but if you hustle, you can make up for those mistakes. And this unit’s playing well and believing in themselves, and they know they’ve got [junior goalkeeper] Adam Cohen playing real well. We can give up the outside shots, and he’s going to nail them.”
*Sophomore midfielder Phil Poe proved critical with 15-of-19 faceoffs against the Terps, but his goal with 9:19 left in the fourth quarter was part of a 5-0 run that helped the Retrievers turn a 6-3 deficit into an 8-6 lead. Poe, who scored after winning the ensuing faceoff, acknowledged that he wasn’t looking to shoot. “I looked for [junior attackman] Scott [Jones], who is our best shooter on the team,” Poe said. “Nobody stepped towards me to try to bait me into turning it over. So I just stepped in. We scouted him [Maryland junior goalie Niko Amato] to be weak on bounce shots, so I just bounced it and it went in.”
*Judging by the records kept on Maryland’s website, Tuesday night’s contest was the first midweek meeting between these two teams since May 2, 1989, which was also a Tuesday. Both sides had played on the previous Saturday, but McKelvey said the short turnaround didn’t bother UMBC. “To me, I thought it was an advantage because it wasn’t that week-long hype,” he said. “We had two days to prepare for this team. So there’s no time to psych ourselves out. So we came in and, as Coach said, played our game. We came in and we were ready to go.”
*It’s been a couple months since the first preseason rankings were published by several media outlets, but the Retrievers are still smarting from the lowly assessment many had placed on them. “I think we felt like coming into this year, we were a little disrespected,” sophomore midfielder Conor Finch said. “You guys saw and read all the rankings. We were [No.] 45. That kind of put a chip on our shoulders and Maryland’s always a perennial powerhouse. So to come out here and just prove that UMBC’s back is a big thing for us and gives us a lot of confidence moving forward.”