First-round matchups involve reunion theme
There’s a general theme in the first-round pairings involving the area teams, and it involves reunions.
When UMBC visits No. 6 seed North Carolina Saturday, Retrievers coach Don Zimmerman returns to the program for which he served as an assistant coach between 1979-83. Zimmerman was thought to be the leading candidate for the head coaching vacancy created when the Tar Heels fired coach John Haus last May, but he removed his name from consideration and signed a six-year extension to stay at UMBC.
In addition to Zimmerman, senior midfielder Peet Poillon reunites with Joe Breschi, the new North Carolina coach who mentored Poillon when the pair competed for Ohio State. When Breschi was hired away by the Tar Heels, Poillon requested a transfer and landed with the Retrievers.
"Peet’s been with us for a year, and he’s had a great year for us," Zimmerman said of Poillon, who leads the team in assists (19) and points (44). "Whenever you go back and compete against a former coach of yours, I’m sure it’s a little special."
Much has already been made about Maryland’s matchup with No. 7 seed Notre Dame and the prodigal son-like return of Terps junior attackman Will Yeatman to South Bend, Ind. Navy’s trip to No. 3 seed Duke is a similar return home for Midshipmen coach Richie Meade, who was an assistant coach for the Blue Devils between 1977-78.
When Brown travels to Baltimore to take on No. 8 seed Johns Hopkins Saturday, Bears senior goalkeeper Jordan Burke will see his younger brother Steven, a freshman goalie for the Blue Jays.
Despite the brotherly connection, Johns Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala said the coaches would not ask Steven for insider info on his older brother.
"We have far too much respect for Jordan, but in particular for Steven and his family to put Steven in that situation," Pietramala said. "We’ll do what we always do. We’ll scout and we’ll scout well and we’ll scout hard and we’ll make our decisions based on what we see on film."