Don Zimmerman may have raised a few eyebrows when he elected to promote freshman Max Maxwell to join senior Matt Gregoire and sophomore Nate Lewnes as starting attackmen for UMBC’s season opener at No. 3 Maryland on Feb. 15.
Maxwell endured a rough debut when he committed a game-high four turnovers and took zero shots in the team’s 14-3 loss to the Terps, but he may have validated his coach’s decision when he scored his first career hat trick on just four shots in the Retrievers’ 10-8 win against Monmouth on Saturday.
Maxwell scored back-to-back goals in the third quarter and the eventual game-winner in the fourth period against the Hawks to help UMBC even its record at 1-1.
“I was real happy,” Zimmerman said Monday of Maxwell’s performance. “Max is doing a nice job. He’s a freshman, and that freshman year is a big transition year between the high school and college game. I just felt like against Maryland, he was playing some really outstanding defensemen with experience, and it was a tough debut for a freshman attackman. I thought he bounced back and had a good week of practice last week, and he came out and got a hat trick. The one goal in particular where he was able to play a loose ball coming to the midline and sprinted to the goal with a guy on him was really a terrific play. So hopefully, Max will gain some confidence out of Saturday and will use it to keep working and keep improving.”
Maxwell was part of an attack unit that played well overall on Saturday. With senior Matt Gregoire scoring four times, sophomore Nate Lewnes assisting on two of those goals, and even junior Ty Kashur scoring once, the attack combined for eight of the team’s 10 goals and two of five assists
“Our attack’s job is to finish the opportunities that are presented to them,” Zimmerman said. “I think we have been, but we’ve also missed some. Look, it’s still early. That was our second game. So we expect to get better each and every week, and hopefully, our attack will continue to put points on the board and improve in that area.”
Lewnes’ assists were his first points of the season. After posting 14 goals and 10 assists as a freshman, Lewnes is tied with sophomore midfielder Pat Young for the team lead in shots with 15 each this year, but is still seeking his first goal.
Zimmerman said he had planned to sit down with Lewnes on Monday and remind him of the coaches’ confidence in him.
“I think he started to press on Saturday,” Zimmerman said. “As a guy who scores goals, you want to get that first one early in a game. I always felt that if you get a goal early in a game, now you’re off and running. So when you’ve been shut out in two games, there is a tendency to press. And I just want to tell Nate that he’s a good player and we still believe in him obviously. Don’t press. Just keep working. Just keep doing the things we’re asking you to do, and the shots will start to drop.”