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UMBC men come back to beat No. 20 Binghamton, 7-6

UMBC men come back to beat No. 20 Binghamton, 7-6

When the UMBC men's lacrosse team found itself trailing visiting Binghamton by three after one quarter and by two at halftime, coach Ryan Moran experienced a sense of déjà vu.

The early portion of Saturday night's game remind the coach of a another against an America East foe, UMass Lowell, in which the Retrievers fell behind by four after the opening quarter and trailed by two at intermission, but managed to bounce back for a 10-6 victory on April 1.

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So it wasn't too surprising that after UMBC pulled off a similar comeback to edge the No. 20 Bearcats, 7-6, before an announced 704 at UMBC Stadium in Catonsville, Moran mentioned the similar circumstances.

"This was the same exact game against UMass Lowell," he recalled. "We were losing 5-0 and then it was 5-3 at halftime. That's what we talked about at halftime, that we had been here before. It's really a matter of the first ground ball, the first possession, the first shot, the first stop on defense, it's got to come our way. If it does, then it's 5-4 and Binghamton's going to be singing to a different tune. They're going to get a little more tight."

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The Retrievers (5-6, 3-1 America East), who took one step closer to qualifying for the league tournament for the first time since 2014, rallied for their second win in a row when trailing at halftime. That was thanks to a zone defense that flustered a Bearcats offense that had entered the game averaging 11.2 goals. Binghamton scored only one goal in the final 36:40 of the game.

Senior goalkeeper Ruston Souder (Chesapeake-AA) made seven saves, and sophomore defenseman Jason Brewster helped limit Bearcats senior attackman Tom Moore to only two goals after he had 30 goals and 24 assists in his first 10 starts.

The zone prevented Moore from dodging freely up top to find teammates for open looks, and Binghamton (9-2, 3-1) took only 19 shots, including just five in the second half and one in the third quarter.

"We started man, and we've been working on it pretty much the whole week," said Brewster, who picked up two ground balls. "Coming out, we thought we didn't play very well [on] man. So we switched to zone, and it kind of stumped them. I don't think they were really ready for it. We rotated perfectly together. We worked well off-ball. A few mess-ups, but we worked through it. And it helps having Ruston Souder in the cage. He definitely made some saves that he should not have."

Offensively, UMBC was paced by sophomore midfielder Billy Nolan, who had his second career hat trick with two of the three goals coming in the second half. Brewster said Nolan had predicted on Friday that he would score three goals, which proved crucial as the offense was forced to play with a less-than-healthy Max Maxwell. The senior attackman, who entered the day leading the team in goals (15) and assists (17), had been sidelined for the past four days of practice by a stomach flu.

Freshman attackman Ryan Frawley's second goal of the game proved to be the game-winner. He curled around the right post and bounced the ball past senior goalie Tanner Cosens (eight stops) with 3:13 left in regulation. It was only the Retrievers' second lead of the game and first since sophomore midfielder Ryan Baker found Gunnar Schimoler (South River) on the left wing for a goal with 8:35 left in the first quarter to give the Retrievers a 1-0 opening.

"Coach Moran this week challenged us, the whole offense," Nolan said. "We weren't happy with the way we played the last couple of weeks. We thought we missed some opportunities against Albany. And this week, he challenged us to come out and play, and we practiced faster and harder than we have all year."

Sophomore midfielder Joe Licata paced the Bearcats with three goals and one assist. Coach Kevin McKeown conceded that UMBC's zone defense kept his offense off-balance.

"I think they had a great game plan and executed it well," he said. "I think we had a couple untimely turnovers. They had some long possessions where we played a lot of defense and just couldn't get over the hump in the second half there."

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