UMBC encountered no challenge when it opened its lacrosse season with a 26-goal victory over Marist Saturday.
But yesterday, the Retrievers met serious resistance on three fronts-- the opposition, the weather and a muddy field -- and triumphed in spite of it.
Under conditions more suitable for mud-packing and kite flying, the 10th-ranked Retrievers turned back visiting Notre Dame, 13-7, to earn their first 2-0 start in 10 years and receive a suitable warm-up for this weekend's Hofstra game.
Temperatures were in the 30s, the wind whipped and swirled briskly, making it seem much colder, and the quagmire left from a night of rain was ankle-deep in spots. The Johns Hopkins game at Washington College was postponed because of similar conditions.
"The conditions were horrible, just deplorable," said UMBC coach Dick Watts. "The field was as bad as I've ever seen it, with deep, deep mud. But we decided to go ahead and play.
"Notre Dame is staying in the area to play Georgetown Saturday, but if we had postponed, the ground might have been frozen tomorrow. Besides, I would prefer not to play a Thursday game before going to Hofstra. Running on this kind of field takes a lot out of kids' legs."
The Irish (1-2) were very much in the game at halftime, but a two-goal Retrievers blitz 28 seconds into the third period did them in. SeniorSteve Marohl (South River) scored on a feed from Jamie Batley following the opening faceoff and 18 seconds later, Marohl assisted on one of three goals by Sam Walker (Perry Hall) to make it 11-5.
By the time Notre Dame ended its 31-minute scoring drought -- during which the Retrievers scored four times -- at 12:58 of the final period, it was too late.
"We've been having some problems getting enough movement off the ball," said Irish coach Kevin Corrigan. "We stand around and wait for somebody to do something. This team has to learn that sometimes you have to win ugly, not look good. You don't have to make a highlight film, just be better than the other team that day."
Marohl finished with three goals and six assists, increasing the Division I school records he holds in both categories on a day when bouncing a shot past the goalies was almost impossible. The ball simply stuck in the mud.
"He seemed like the only guy on the field who could move," said Corrigan. "He's an excellent player, All-America caliber. We didn't come here to have a learning experience, or stay close, but to win. But we had a freshman [Mike Iorio] on him [Marohl], and I'm sure he's one guy who learned something."
Watts said he kept his squad inside until it was absolutely necessary to leave the warmth of the locker room, "and I think it took them a while to get used to being outside.
"We expected a lot more competition than in our first game, and we got it."