UMBC's bid to upset No. 3 Johns Hopkins on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Retrievers Stadium in Catonsville could miss a key ingredient in starting midfielder Zach Linkous.
The senior missed the team's 14-5 dismantling of Richmond on Saturday because of a shin injury, and his availability for Saturday's contest between the Retrievers (2-1) and Blue Jays (4-0) is uncertain.
Coach Don Zimmerman characterized Linkous' status as to be determined, and he said he is hoping that source of the St. Paul's graduate's problem is not a stress fracture.
"We're thin," Zimmerman said Wednesday afternoon. "So we can't afford to lose anybody, especially a senior midfielder like Zach who has been a steady player for us throughout his career. We're hoping it's just a shin splint, and with the additional rest, we want Zach to come back healthy and able to really perform well and enjoy his senior year."
Linkous, who posted one goal and one assist in two games so far, was replaced on the first midfield by junior Ty Kashur. Kashur, a transfer from CCBC-Essex, did not take a shot in the win against the Spiders, but did register an assist.
"[W]e had to do some juggling, and we felt like let's give Ty Kashur an opportunity to get in there and see what he can do," Zimmerman said. "He's used to playing attack for us and playing behind the goal as a midfielder, which I think gives us a different look. And I think the kid's worked hard and deserves a shot."
Kashur ran on a first line that included sophomores Pat Young and Jack Gannon, both of whom scored two goals each. Zimmerman said aside from having to run back to play defense, Kashur has adjusted to the transition quickly.
"He's meshed very well," Zimmerman said. "Your offense is always predicated on the attack and midfield, and it's six offensive players. So in this case, you can say that we've gone to four attackmen and two middies. We're trying to put our best people on the field, and we feel like Ty is one of those top six guys right now."
One of those top six players is sophomore attackman Nate Lewnes, who snapped a mini-drought of sorts and scored his first goal of the season against Richmond. In fact, the St. Mary's graduate scored three goals and added two assists. His return was a welcomed sight for Zimmerman.
"He scored a couple goals, and he got that monkey off of his back," Zimmerman said. "When you're a guy who is considered a goal scorer and you're not putting points on the board, you feel like you're not getting the job done. Nate is the type of guy who's a team player and he understands that for us to be successful, he's got to do his job. When he's not getting the job done, he's the kind of guy who feels like he's letting his teammates down. So I don't think it's a personal thing. It's more of a, 'Hey, I've got to get my game together and start scoring some goals for this team.'"