UMBC at Maryland: Three things to watch
UMBC has won three of the last four meetings between these rivals, but the Retrievers limp into Friday night’s contest with three consecutive losses after opening the season with a win against Presbyterian. Maryland (4-1) has won two straight, but might be forced to play without senior attackman Travis Reed (shoulder). Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at Byrd Stadium in College Park.
1) Fury Factor. UMBC coach Don Zimmerman delivered a strong message after the team’s 16-5 loss to Johns Hopkins last Saturday, and the players have reportedly responded in practice. An injured adversary is usually a dangerous one, and Terps coach John Tillman is making sure that his players don’t overlook the Retrievers. “I think they’ll be excited to show that last week was really not them,” Tillman said. “They’re going to try to prove to everybody, especially Maryland, that they’re better than that and that they can beat anybody in the country. … So we have to be very prepared and very disciplined and very smart on Friday. We’re going through exams right now, so there’s another thing going against us. I expect UMBC to play very, very well on Friday night, and I’m hopeful that we play very well, too.”
2) Fastbreak Factor. Zimmerman echoed Towson coach Tony Seaman’s concern about the Terps’ ability to move from defense and offense before their opponents can insert their defense. Zimmerman said the onus will be UMBC’s offensive players to be patient and wait for quality scoring opportunities. “If you take a shot that’s an easy save for the goalkeeper, not only do you possession of the ball, but against a team like Maryland with the way they get it up and out and so quickly, they can come right back at you and turn a save into a fast break into a goal,” he said. “I refer to those as a ‘two-goal swing play.’ So we have to shoot the ball smartly, and when they do get the ball, we have to understand that we have to turn and fly into the hole and get as many people back on defense as we can to try to prevent them from cashing in.”
3) Fix Factor. The Terps defeated the Tigers last Saturday, but Tillman wasn’t entirely pleased with what he watched unfold. Towson trailed 6-2 at halftime, but scored two goals in the third quarter and would have cut the deficit to one if not for a heady play by senior long-stick midfielder Brian Farrell, who blocked a shot that got past redshirt freshman goalie Niko Amato. A general sense of malaise and lethargy seemed to envelop the offense, which Tillman would prefer to avoid. “I just didn’t feel like in the third and fourth quarters, our flow on offense or our pace was very strong, and that was disappointing,” he said. “We failed to clear a couple times, and that was disappointing. We missed some ground balls. I’d like to see us clean up some of those areas, and I certainly think we can do that.”