Binghamton at UMBC: Three things to watch
The No. 11 Retrievers have won or shared the America East regular-season title in each of the past five years. If UMBC (10-3) hopes to reach its fourth consecutive tournament final, here are a few objectives the team should aim for.
1) The Retrievers’ first midfield of seniors Peet Poillon (25 goals and 17 assists) and Alex Hopmann (30, 4), and junior Kyle Wimer (21, 15) draws a lot of attention, and rightly so, as those three are the team’s top point producers. But the attack can complement the midfield and guys like senior Ryan Smith (17, 6), juniors Matt Latham (20, 5) and Chris Jones (15, 7), and freshman Rob Grimm (8, 16) make the offense a dual threat. "We want balanced scoring," coach Don Zimmerman said. "We like to attack the goal from out front and behind. When you have six guys playing offense, sharing the ball, and contributing in their own right, we can be tough to defend. And I think it’s more fun that way. I think it just gives us some momentum."
2) Since succeeding J.D. Harkey (torn anterior cruciate ligament) as the team’s primary faceoff specialist, freshman Justin Radebaugh has won at least 50 percent of his faceoffs in six of eight games, and UMBC went 5-1 in those contests. Radebaugh and senior Matt Curtin give the team options at the faceoff "X." "They’re challenging one another in practice and pushing one another and as a result, I’ve seen improvement in both Justin and Matt," Zimmerman said. "We think we have a nice 1-2 punch there, and that’s always key."
3) On paper, Binghamton seems like a sacrificial lamb. The Bearcats went 3-11 overall and 2-3 in the conference, and they averaged just 6.6 goals per game while surrendering 10.7. Binghamton’s top three scorers are underclassmen, and the team has lost seven straight on the road. But the Bearcats extended the Retrievers into overtime in last year’s tournament semifinal, and Zimmerman is wary of a surprise. "What you said about Binghamton is pretty much what you see with Hartford, and as you may know, a couple of weeks ago, we weren’t able to get it done against a similar Hartford team," Zimmerman said, referring to a 10-8 loss on April 18. "With youth, you sometimes lack experience, but teams can come in with a nothing-to-lose, everything-to-gain attitude, and those teams are dangerous, especially when they’re well-coached. So we expect a good, tough game."