UMBC coach Don Zimmerman has been in the game long enough not to get too excited about one victory over another or get frustrated by one loss versus another. But Zimmerman, who recently wrapped up his 27th season as a head coach, conceded that the Retrievers’ come-from-behind 15-13 victory over Hartford on May 2 in an America East tournament semifinal at Stony Brook was one that still resonated with him weeks after that outcome.
“I wish I could bottle that last six minutes as far as what we did on the field and what we did on the sideline and as far as that team being determined to do whatever they could do to help us win that game,” Zimmerman said, referring to the team’s 6-0 run in the final 5 minutes, 46 seconds of that contest. “Not only the guys on the field, but the bench came alive and guys were hooting and hollering.
That’s what it’s all about, and the guys know that. We could have hopped on that bus and driven back that night from Stony Brook, Long Island, and that’s a tough ride home. The season’s over and it’s disappointing. Instead, we hop on the bus and drive 15 minutes back to our hotel knowing that we’re going to be there for two more days and knowing that we’re going to play for the conference title. Every player experienced that. That’s good for the seniors because they worked hard to get us there. And it’s good for the underclassmen. Now they get a taste of it. Now they understand that, ‘Hey, if we can do this and we can do these things, this is where we can go.’ So I think that game had a tremendous impact on this team.”
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The Retrievers (7-8) had their season end with a 19-10 loss to then-No. 10 Albany in the conference tournament final, but the team will have one more opportunity to play together as the program travels to Japan this summer to compete in the International Friendship Games. It is an experience that Zimmerman is looking forward to.
“This will be the third UMBC team going over,” Zimmerman said. “We do it every four years. So this team still has some lacrosse left in it, and that’s neat, to be able to keep playing. It’s a special trip. And for a lot of the guys that we’re talking about returning, this will be another opportunity for them to show the coaches what they can do.”