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Men's lacrosse is on a 3 game winning streak going into the final game of the regular season. Photo by Ian Feldmann.

UMBC continues their winning streak

On a day that saw chilly winds and cloudy weather, there was a revamped lacrosse team who pulled off the upset of the season the week prior. UMBC went on the road to face Binghamton in a conference matchup which had very low scoring and plenty of defensive play. This game showed the resiliency of UMBC, who held off Binghamton for a 5-2 victory Saturday evening. Riding on the high off the historic win against Albany, the Retrievers showed how they accomplished this feat through their gritty defensive play and hard hitting checks.

As the game was underway, it seemed that this would be another game where UMBC could have a back and forth battle on their hands as Binghamton scored within the first two minutes of the quarter. There would be no scoring for either team in the first quarter until the final two and a half minutes of the quarter. At the 2:22 mark, junior midfielder and political science major Billy Nolan tied the game up with a goal cutting inside that was assisted by junior midfielder and media and communications major Jack Andrews. On a face off won by Binghamton, they were able to score, giving Bingahmton a 2-1 lead going into the second quarter. UMBC had seven shots in that first quarter while only converting on 2 with 5 of the 7 shots going wide of its target.

The goal scored by Binghamton in the first quarter would be their last goal for the remainder of the game. In the second quarter, just as he did the first quarter to get the game started, Billy Nolan once again worked his magic and was able to get on the scoreboard yet again with a goal in the first minute and a half of the quarter. The second quarter is where UMBC has thrived defensively as they haven’t allowed a goal in the second quarter in the last two games. The Retrievers were able to take the lead off a freshman midfielder Michael Zichelli goal from a very difficult angle.

That would be the last highlight of the half as each side was held scoreless. At the half UMBC led 3-2 while outshooting Binghamton 18-11. Going into the second half there was a weird feeling in the air. There was a feeling within the NY crowd that signified that there could be a chance of a Bearcats victory given the Retrievers recent history of blowing leads in the second half. Unfortunately for the Bearcats, there would be no such luck as UMBC came out with that same defensive intensity that they ended the half with. The majority of the third quarter belonged to UMBC defensively as they forced 5 turnovers and only allowed 5 shots at the goal. Neither team was able to score in the third quarter as both sides struggled to find the net.

The fourth quarter was a different story, at least it was for UMBC. The Retrievers began to shoot the ball with reckless abandonment taking 11 shots in this quarter alone. Throughout the quarter it was more of the same in the third quarter with each team not being able to get a handle on the ball. From the abundance of ground balls to the hustle for possession on a loose ball UMBC refused to let this game slip away from them. It was not until the last 5 minutes of the quarter that UMBC was finally to break the scoring drought that lasted over 30 minutes of play with a goal by freshman attackman Brett Baucia.

With the score sitting at 4-2, it was very crucial that there would be no lazy play and to finish out strong to clinch the first road win of the season. Freshman attackman Steven Zichelli put the nail in the coffin with a split of the double team and a score in the final minute of play. Billy Nolan led the way with his two goals followed by the Zichelli brothers both scoring a goal. Freshman goalie Tommy Lingner pushed his record to 4-5 with 8 saves on 10 shots. This is the Retrievers first win in Vestal since 2010. With this win UMBC is now 2-2 in conference play and 4-7 overall. The team looked to keep this win streak alive as they returned home for senior night to face the Hartford Hawks.

On a day where UMBC honored their senior players, there were tears of joy before the game followed by a showcase of raw talent on both sides as UMBC dominated Hartford 8-3.  Senior defenseman and business tech administration major Billy O’Hara lead the team in forced turnovers with 4 as the team caused 10 of Hartford’s 20 turnovers. “All year it’s been a work in progress, and I think its finally getting to that point where we’re gelling together and now we just gotta keep doing what we’re doing and follow our gameplans,” said O’Hara. The defense has been relentless on their opponents, only giving a total of 5 goals in the last 2 games.

The first half was all UMBC as they were able to jump out to a 4-2 lead with four different players scoring a goal. The crowd made their presence felt early as they heckled the Hawks on every single possession, attempting to get in the head of the opponents and cheering on the Retrievers down at the other end. Even senior defender and chemical engineering major John Tornabene expressed his gratitude for the fans, “That kind of stuff builds you inside and helps you play. It’s nice to hear that kind of support.” That confidence came early and often for UMBC who jumped on Hartford in the first quarter with a 2-1 lead including a beautiful bounce shot from junior attackman and media and communications major Zach Kalas towards the end of the quarter.

The second quarter was all UMBC who only gave up only 1 goal and limited Hartford to only 5 shots. While the defense held up their end of the deal suffocating the Hawks the offense cranked up the intensity by unloading of flurry of shots in an attempt to push the Hawks defense to their limits. On one offensive series UMBC was able to get off 4 shots that wore down the defense until they finally capitalized with a score from Andrews. UMBC ended the half with a score from Nolan who created space to sling one in the back of the net.

The second half was more of the same for UMBC who kept the defense cranked at an all time high with exceptional pressure on the ball and didn’t give up a single goal in the third quarter. Coach Moran knew his team had everything under control on the defensive end. “We wanted to come out in man to man and see how we matched up, and throughout the game, we thought about switching it, but hey, if it’s not broke dont fix it.” UMBC caused 9 more turnovers in the second half to further frustrate the Hawks who couldn’t seem to keep the ball in their stick. Going into the 4th quarter UMBC held a 6-2 lead and would not be denied as Baucia scored on an assist from Nolan to push it to a 7-2 lead.

Steven Zichelli put an exclamation mark on this game with a long distance shot to push the lead to 8-2. Zichelli finished with 3 goals on the day. As Senior Night approached its final minutes, the UMBC fans cheered loudly as the players swarmed the field embracing their third straight victory. UMBC faces Vermont for the final game of the season and eyes a chance at the postseason with a victory. Coach Moran understands the difficulty of this game and what it will take to pull out a win. “We’re gonna have our work cut out for us. When we go into a game we look into it with the mindset of this is how we have to do it. We do these things and we can come away with a win.” One game will decide the fate of this lacrosse team against the same school that gave the basketball team its ticket to the NCAA tourney. Will lightning strike twice in the same place?