UMBC beats the No. 1 team in the nation for a second time in a month in a second sport. Photo by Ian Feldmann.
UMBC has now become the Achilles’ heel to #1 ranked teams. This comes after the UMBC men’s lacrosse team dominated the No. 1 team in the nation, UAlbany, with an 11-7 victory on Friday night. The offense finally made its long awaited debut as the Retrievers scored their highest point total of the season. The defense smothered a potent Albany offense all throughout the game. The lacrosse team channeled the powers of the basketball team in this win. “The basketball team had a big impact, its like when you see them accomplish something like that its proof that anything is possible,” said junior midfielder and political science major Billy Nolan.
In a stadium filled with rambunctious fans, the lacrosse team played one of its most complete games of season. The first quarter saw a back and forth effort by both teams with UMBC jumping out to a 2-0 lead, with both goals coming within two minutes of each other. Albany would not be outdone as they responded with two goals of their own. UMBC pushed the score to 3-2 with a last-second goal by junior attack/midfielder and economics major Gunnar Schimoler. The second quarter was dominated by UMBC on both sides of the ball as the Retrievers scored 5 of their 11 points.
The second quarter belonged to Nolan as he showed his talents on the offensive side scoring a goal and assisting on two. “We came into this game well prepared; there’s no reason to be scared out there. They’re a great team. We feel like we’re a great team, and we had a great practice, so we reaped the benefits.” said Nolan. This bode of confidence was shown throughout the entire team in just how ruthless and aggressive they played. Every possession that Albany had was met with tremendous on-the-ball defense and vicious checks. Junior midfielder and media and communications major Jack Andrews made his presence felt as well with two goals in the second period.
At the half, the Retrievers had a commanding 8-2 lead. As the crowd shouted with excitement at the performance of the team, UMBC knew it couldn’t let off the gas against a team like Albany. “You gotta keep playing hard cause you never know with teams like that, you gotta stay on your toes,” said freshman goalie Tommy Lingner. Lingner had 16 saves and recovered four ground balls.
The third quarter highlighted nothing but defense on both sides, excluding goals by both teams in the latter half of the third. UMBC scored up a man with Nolan shooting a diving shot with the assist going to freshman attackman Steven Zichelli. This defense has been around all year for UMBC, wreaking havoc on their opponents and doing the same in this game. UMBC caused 8 total turnovers and forced Albany into 42 shots with only 23 shots on goal. Head coach Ryan Moran knew they had to mix up the defensive plan if they were gonna keep Albany on their toes. “Gotta give credit to the players and coaches in creating the game plan, kinda going in and out of man and zone. You want to be able to do both because you never know which one is gonna work better for you,” said Moran after the game.
The fourth quarter, UMBC did all they could to keep the ball out of the hands of Albany. UMBC accumulated a possession time of at least 9 minutes in the 15 minute quarter. Albany was able to scrounge up four goals in the fourth period but was thwarted from making a comeback by the likes of Nolan and freshman attackman Ben Keller. Those two scores sealed the victory for UMBC and handed the No. 1 ranked team its first loss of the season. With seconds ticking down, the crowd erupted, realizing the lacrosse team pulled out an incredible upset. UMBC fans were given something else to talk about besides the basketball team’s victory. “We have been a work in progress all season and we’re finally starting to put things together and hopefully after a win like this that can continue.” said coach Moran.
The team rejoiced with one another jumping up and down and charging the field as they had defeated the top team in the conference, not only giving them their first loss in the conference but also their first loss of the season. This is the first time UMBC has beaten a top ranked team since 1998. With the offense finally picking up where the defense leaves off, there is a chance for UMBC to finish the season on a run with three conference games left on the schedule. Their next conference game will be against Binghamton on Saturday April 27 at 7 p.m. One thing is certain: the Retrievers have proven that no matter what your rank is, you’ll never be better than the top dawg, especially if you’re ranked No. 1.