Last year’s regular-season finale ended on a sour note for UMBC when Binghamton stunned the Retrievers with a 15-8 rout in Vestal, N.Y. But the loss wasn’t too costly as UMBC had already clinched a berth in the America East tournament.
This Saturday should have a much different feel to it. The Retrievers (5-7 overall and 2-2 in the league) will meet the Bearcats (5-8, 1-3) this Saturday at UMBC Stadium in Catonsville to cap the 2013 campaign, but at stake is a spot in the conference tournament.
If UMBC wins, it is in the tournament. If not, the team will have to wait and see how Stony Brook (7-7, 2-2) and Hartford (6-6, 2-2) fare.
Retrievers coach Don Zimmerman has been around the sport too long to buy into the revenge theory. But he did say that the team can use last year’s setback as inspiration.
“You can’t worry about the past. But you can learn from the past, and it can help you be ready for Saturday’s game,” he said. “I think that’s more of a motivational thing. It’s our Senior Day, and we have 14 seniors that will be recognized, and this is a must-win game. So you have a must-win game against a team that last year kind of handled us and we have 14 seniors that will be honored and recognized. That alone should be motivation for this team.”
UMBC has qualified for the last nine America East tournaments in nine seasons in the conference. The pressure to maintain that streak is palpable, but Zimmerman said this is what the players and coaches usually desire.
“This is what you play for,” he said. “You play to advance to the postseason tournament, which gives you a chance to win the conference championship. And you can move on and advance to the NCAAs. So absolutely this is pressure, but this is why we play. We play for games like Saturday.”
So how will the Retrievers respond?
“I’m confident that our guys are going to rise to the occasion,” Zimmerman said. “We have 14 seniors and these guys have been through an entire season. It’s time to really step up and win a big lacrosse game. The key is to be confident and be prepared and ready to go. We’re hungry and understand that we’re playing a tough opponent, and we’re going to do everything in our power to be ready to go.”