Review & preview: UMBC
Here’s the fourth installment of a new series that checks in with the seven Division I programs in the state to give a glimpse into the past and the future. Today, we take a visit with UMBC.
The good: The Retrievers’ first midfield of seniors Peet Poillon (26 goals and 21 assists) and Alex Hopmann (36, 8) and junior Kyle Wimer (24, 18) was one of the most prolific in the country. Throw in an attack of juniors Matt Latham (27, 5) and Chris Jones (21, 10), senior Ryan Smith (22, 10) and freshman Rob Grimm (10, 17), and you can understand why coach Don Zimmerman was pleased with an offense that ranked sixth in the nation. "I knew we had some talent," he said. "I just didn’t know how it would gel, and it turned out to gel pretty well." … Despite the loss of top shutdown defenseman Bobby Atwell to a torn anterior cruciate ligament in January, senior Kevin Goedeke evolved into the unit’s best defender, and senior Steve Settembrino worked his way into the starting lineup after playing during man-down situations last season. It also helped to have a four-year starter in senior goalie Jeremy Blevins. "Blevins was certainly a strength for us," Zimmerman said. "Losing Bobby Atwell hurt us, but I thought our defense adjusted well."
The bad: The first midfield was so good that it masked the deficiencies in depth at that position. Junior Maxx Davis (1, 1) regressed from last year’s totals (10, 13) and sophomores Jamie Kimbles and Bobby Stockton leveled off after promising first years. "I think one of our weaknesses was we could have used another solid midfield out there," Zimmerman said. … Face-offs stung UMBC as the unit won less than 42 percent. Junior J.D. Harkey was lost for the season after five games due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament, leaving freshman Justin Radebaugh to take the majority of face-offs and win 46.3 percent. "Face-offs early on hurt us, but I think we got better as the year went on," Zimmerman said.
Personnel changes: The midfield takes the biggest hit with the departure of Poillon and Hopmann – both of whom were selected in the Major Lacrosse League draft. Zimmerman expects Davis, Kimbles and Stockton to battle for the right to start alongside Wimer. Junior Jordan Pierce and freshman Rich May could also contribute. … Junior Kevin Kohri is slated to succeed Blevins in the cage, but freshmen Brian McCullough and Matt Holman and incoming freshman Adam Cohen of Severn could push Kohri. "I would say Kohri right now has the lead just in the fact that he’s going to be a senior," Zimmerman said. "But we want it to be competitive, and we feel it will be competitive." … Atwell is expected to return and join juniors Matt Kresse and Brian Schneider on close defense. Juniors Lance Ophof and Tim Eagan and freshman Aaron Verardi and Tim Shaeffer could see some playing time.
Outlook for 2010: Cloudy. The Retrievers had one of their best teams since Zimmerman took over as head coach prior to the 1994 season, but they fell in the NCAA tournament first round as they did in 2008. Graduation sapped UMBC’s scoring punch, and if the team struggles to find consistency from more than just one midfield line, expect Wimer to be the focus of many opponents’ defensive attention. Atwell’s health is one thing that will be studied closely, and Kohri needs to prove that he can fill the void created by Blevins’ departure. But Zimmerman is a master strategist, and he is excited about an incoming recruiting class that includes a trio of St. Mary’s players in midfielders Scott Hopmann, Neill Lewnes and attackman Nick Doub and South River attackman Matthew Gregoire.