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Conference tournament berths at stake this weekend for UMBC men, women | LACROSSE NOTES

The UMBC men’s and women’s lacrosse programs can take a giant step toward qualifying for the America East tournament this weekend.

The conference office confirmed that the men (6-2, 5-2 America East) can clinch a berth in the tournament with a win at either No. 14 Stony Brook (8-3, 6-1) on Saturday or NJIT (1-8, 1-6) on May 1. They can also get in if Binghamton (3-4, 3-4) suffers a loss against either Vermont (5-3, 5-1) on Saturday or UMass Lowell (1-7, 1-6) on April 30.

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“I really have not been trying to pay too much attention to records, just the next game,” said coach Ryan Moran, whose Retrievers have qualified for two of the past three America East tournaments and captured the 2019 championship. “So it’s good to know that if we can get one win in the next two, we can lock something up. That’s better than nothing, but that hasn’t really been our mindset. It’s been all about Stony Brook right now.”

UMBC set a season high in goals in a 13-12 quadruple overtime win against the Seawolves on March 6. Since that game, the offense has featured four different starting attacks, but averaged 9.8 goals.

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“Week in and week out, it’s presented new challenges with kids being healthy, kids coming in and out of the lineup whether that’s because of COVID or injuries,” Moran said. “We’ve had our fair share of those at the attack position. So that’s been different. But I think our kids have handled it really well. I think philosophically, we’ve been able to adjust to that based on what we do schematically. We don’t have set people for certain positions. We really pride ourselves on being somewhat positionless and being able to play in different areas if we need to. So that’s been a benefit.”

The scenario for the women (5-4, 4-3) is simpler: defeat Binghamton (3-3, 3-3) at UMBC Stadium in Catonsville on Saturday at noon and a spot is theirs. Coach Amy Slade, whose program has advanced to four of the past five conference tournaments, did not dismiss the game’s significance.

“It is obviously important because it’s a game we want to win and it’s a game we want to compete in,” she said. “So anytime we step on the field — whether there’s playoff implications or not — we want to be in the driver’s seat for our final destiny. So it’s important to know that yes, this game may have important implications. Whether it’s the first meeting or the second meeting, it’s important to us, and we want to take care of business.”

Since a 13-12 overtime loss at New Hampshire on March 20, the Retrievers have won three of four games. Slade said that setback woke up the team.

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“I think that one kind of stung all of us in a different way,” she said. “I think we took that as positive motivation to realize that we didn’t want to have to see if another team won or lost to be able to control where we were going. I think that’s the important thing, that we are only controlling the controllables. We can’t control the weather, we can’t control the officials. We can only control how we prepare and how we come out every single day, and that’s what we’ve been doing.”

Packed weekend

With games at No. 11 Drexel on Friday and against Hofstra on Sunday at 2 p.m. at Tiger Field in Towson, the Towson women will be the first — and only — team in the Colonial Athletic Association’s South Division to have to tackle two games in a three-day span.

The Tigers (8-4, 0-1 CAA South Division) are competing with the Pride (4-5, 0-2) to finish second in the division and earn a berth in the league tournament. Towson was routed, 20-8, by the Dragons (11-1, 3-0) on April 13, but will meet Hofstra for the first time.

“It’s obviously important as we go into conference seedings,” coach Sonia LaMonica said. “But we’ve just really got to focus on going one game at a time. We’ve seen Drexel already. So that was helpful in our prepping for this week and making some adjustments. And then we’ve got to be ready to turn it around and compete against a good Hofstra team. Our hands are full, but we’re just going to keep focusing on what’s right in front of us.”

First-time starter fares well

While senior attackman Jared Bernhardt (six goals and one assist) and sophomore goalkeeper Logan McNaney (12 saves, one goal and four ground balls) garnered many of the headlines after the No. 1 Maryland men’s 18-8 dismantling of then-No. 12 Ohio State on Sunday, sophomore Luke Wierman won 9-of-13 faceoffs with six ground balls in the first half of his first career start.

Although Wierman finished slightly below 50% (48.1 on 13-of-27) against Buckeyes senior Justin Inacio, he finished with as many ground balls (seven) as Inacio, who was the Big Ten’s Co-Specialist of the Year in 2019. Wierman’s effort did not go unnoticed by teammate and senior midfielder Bubba Fairman.

“For Luke to go out there in his first career start and play as well as he did was phenomenal,” Fairman said. “ … If you go through our roster and look at our faceoff guys, they’re all great, and they’re great kids, too. So Luke had an awesome day, and it was amazing to see.”

Notes

>>With her 300th career victory in 27 years after the No. 16 Johns Hopkins women defeated Penn State, 13-11, on Sunday, Blue Jays coach Janine Turner ranks fifth among Division I coaches in wins at the same school. She trails only Princeton’s Chris Sailer (418 victories from 1987-2020), North Carolina’s Jenny Levy (367 from 1996-2021), Virginia’s Julie Myers (337 from 1996-2021), and Northwestern’s Kelly Amonte (310 from 2002-2021).

>>Abby Blankenship, a senior attacker for the McDaniel women, was named the Centennial Conference’s Offensive Player of the Week after setting career highs in goals (four) and points (five) in Saturday’s 16-6 romp over Muhlenberg. She ranks second on the Green Terror (2-3 overall and 2-2 in the conference) in goals (eight) and third in points (10).

>>Samantha Courtemanche, an Ellicott City resident and Centennial graduate, totaled four goals and two assists in Coastal Carolina’s 11-10 victory over Mercer Saturday. The graduate student attacker scored the game-tying and game-winning goals in the final minute against the Bears and ranks third in program history in career assists (72), fourth in points (160) and fifth in goals (88).

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