Postscript from Binghamton at UMBC
Senior attackman Ryan Smith’s game-winning goal 55 seconds into double overtime overshadowed a troubling performance by a Retrievers offense that had been ranked fifth in the nation in scoring prior to Wednesday night’s 9-8 squeaker against Binghamton in an America East tournament semifinal.
UMBC took 46 shots, landing just 22 on net. Bearcats senior goalkeeper Larry Kline made 13 saves, and Retrievers coach Don Zimmerman said he thought the players began to press and take some low-percentage shots.
"I think we forced the ball a lot on offense tonight," he said. "I think guys tried to do too much. ... The key was, guys stepped up not in a heroic fashion, but in a team fashion and played to their roles."
While UMBC fans might have been heartened to see the starting attack of juniors Chris Jones and Matt Latham and Smith combine for six goals and one assist, the starting midfield of seniors Peet Poillon and Alex Hopmann and junior Kyle Wimer fizzled.
A trio that had combined for 76 goals and 36 assists prior to the semifinal compiled just one goal and three assists.
"I think our midfield kind of got away from the game plan," Zimmerman said. "I call that the ‘50 midfield,’ and that 50 is on their lockers because you add the [jersey] numbers of nine for Hopmann, 20 for Wimer and 21 for Poillon, and that adds up to 50. And they didn’t play like the ‘50 midfield’ tonight. They played like No. 9, No. 20 and No. 21. So we’ve got to get back to being the ‘50 midfield.’"
*Binghamton tied the game at seven on what appeared to be a questionable play. After Retrievers senior goalie Jeremy Blevins made a save, he lost possession of the ball. As he was standing outside of the crease, he was pushed from behind by junior attackman Andy Cook, who corralled the loose ball and fired it into the open net with 2:31 left in the fourth quarter even as he appeared to be in the crease. "I went to my feet to get it and thought I got pushed from behind," said Blevins, whose appeal to an official fell on deaf ears. "By then, it was too little, too late."
*The Bearcats are 1-9 against UMBC, but they have played the Retrievers tough. In a 2006 America East tournament semifinal, UMBC won, 6-3. In a regular-season game the next season, the Retrievers needed double overtime before escaping with a 11-10 victory. And last year’s semifinal was another overtime duel with UMBC prevailing, 6-5. "They always come in here and play us tough in the playoffs," Smith said. "So we knew we were going to be in for a fight." Added Zimmerman: "They’re scrappy, and they play to the personality of their coach [former UMBC assistant coach Ed Stephenson]. They never quit."
*Kline not only made 13 saves, but he also scored Binghamton’s first goal. With 10:07 left in the first quarter, Kline was allowed to carry the ball across the midfield line and into the offensive zone. When no UMBC defender slid to Kline, he cranked an overhand shot from seven yards away past Blevins. "I knew there were some guys who were going to step up and have some great games for us," Stephenson said. "Larry was certainly the leader of that group. ... He had a goal and 13 saves. An unbelievable night against some strong shooters. He rose to the occasion tonight and gave us a chance to win."