UMBC at Towson: Three things to watch
1. One key to a UMBC win: Considering the graduation of midfielders Peet Poillon and Alex Hopmann and attackman Ryan Smith – three players who combined for 84 goals and 39 assists – the Retrievers knew that finding consistent offense was going to be a challenge. Senior attackman Matt Latham and junior midfielder Bobby Stockton have scored 12 and 11 goals, respectively, and senior midfielder Kyle Wimer leads the team in assists with 12, but the unit is still looking for contributions from other sources. Even though UMBC dropped a three-goal decision to No. 16 Stony Brook this past Saturday, the offense scored a season-high 11 goals and tied a season-best with six assists. If the Retrievers can be as opportunistic against Towson, a favorable result might be close at hand.
2. One key to a Towson win: Like the Retrievers, the Tigers have searched high and low to mine consistent production from its offense. Senior midfielders Christian Pastirik and Will Harrington lead the way with 15 and 14 goals, respectively, but an attack unit composed of junior Tim Stratton, sophomores Matt Lamon and Stephen Norris and freshman Matt Hughes is still finding its footing. They meet a UMBC defense that – while it has had its fair share of struggles this season – is still composed of senior defensemen Bobby Atwell and Matt Kresse and senior long-stick midfielder Michael Camardo, who leads Division I in caused turnovers per game (3.6). “Defensively, they’ve got as good a team as any we’re going to go against all year, Towson coach Tony Seaman said. “Their long-stick middie is as good as anybody. He breaks up a lot of plays, gets the ball on the ground, and comes up with the ball all the time. Their close defensemen are excellent.”
3. One key match-up: For either offense to get into gear, possession will be key, and one area linked to that category is face-offs. Retrievers junior J.D. Harkey has won 61 of 123 face-offs (.496), while Tigers freshman Matt Thomas has succeeded on 58 of 120 draws (.483). Their battle at the face-off should be an intriguing “game within the game.” Both teams are winning less than 46 percent of face-offs (the Retrievers at .456, the Tigers at .456), so something’s got to give, right?