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Alphabetical 2014 NCAA D1 Preview: UMBC

The NCAA D1 season is now underway! During the first couple of weeks of lacrosse season we’ll be finishing up the Alphabetical 2014 NCAA D1 Previews! Like last year, we are going through all of the D1 men’s teams for 2014 (there are 67 this year!) and we are now moving on to the UMBC Retrievers, located in Baltimore, MD.

Don Zimmerman’s UMBC team has finished just under .500 by a goal or three the past couple of seasons. The Retrievers have produced some of the biggest names in pro lacrosse, but can the program start getting back on the winning track in 2014? A 7-8 record in 2013 gives the UMBC faithful some hope…

The America East schedule is good, with Albany as a highlight. Games against Hopkins and Maryland (their opener) should really test the team. Many of the games are winnable contests, but the UMBC offense may need to produce more goals for that to happen. That often comes from an uncanny bond, and in the offseason UMBC travelled to Japan to play, as the NCAA allows every few years. Maybe that spirit will carry over.

It had better because UMBC was rocked by graduation.

UMBC does return two starters at attack in Matt Gregoire and Nate Lewnes. Gregoire is a second time captain and solid scorer. A freshman could see time in that third spot, and UMBC could also use some of the reserves on man up. It’s not a huge group, but it’s interesting and has potential for a good scoring spark.

Pat Young burst onto the scene last year and it wasn’t just his tilt that had people impressed. He’s a sophomore now and leads a good group of players. Ryan Johnston, Zach Linkhous, and Will Fejes give the midfield some leadership and experience. Jack Gannon is a sophomore who will see more time in 2014. Beyond that you could see some freshman on the field, or other younger players. With tough games early, there could be a steep learning curve, however that could pay off in the long-term come conference play. UMBC also has a solid stable of d-mids and transition goals are definitely possible.

LSM is a spot with some competition, but look for Seth Mackin to lead the way early on. Phil Poe is a strength taking face offs, and his return bodes well for UMBC. When it comes to goalie though, UMBC doesn’t have a clear cut starter. Three players are battling for the spot as last year’s starter is injured.

Close defense is also a bit of a head scratcher. Zach Esser, Mike Dahl, and Ian Gray all saw time last year and could be a solid group. Matt Reeping could also see time. If those guys don’t make it, it’s freshman probably time.

UMBC has some talent, and a couple of standout players. If one or two of the freshmen have seasons similar to what Pat Young did last year, it will help immensely. With so much new personnel UMBC has a chance to start fresh and do things in a new way. I don’t know if they’ll win more than half their games this year, but I think they could be competitive and a lot of fun to watch no matter what.

For more NCAA D1 Lacrosse team coverage, check out Alphabetical 2013 NCAA D1 Preview: Air ForceAlbanyArmyBellarmineBinghamtonBostonBrownBryantBucknellCanisius,
GeorgetownHartfordHarvardHigh PointHobartHofstraHoly CrossJacksonvilleJohns_HopkinsLafayetteLehighLoyolaManhattanMaristMarquette,
Robert_MorrisRutgersSacred_HeartSaint_Joseph’s,SienaSt. John’sStony_BrookSyracuse, and Towson.