As Hampson matures, so do Retrievers' hopes

Goalie a key as UMBC pushes for postseason

May 08, 1999|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

Whether he's hunting deer or playing lacrosse, it's Andrew Hampson's style to blend into the scenery. Quiet as he is consistent, Hampson was noticed for the wrong reasons when he was added to UMBC's roster in February 1996.

"Andrew decided at the last minute that he was going to transfer here, and it was a scramble to get him admitted into school," Retrievers coach Don Zimmerman said. "We had been practicing for a couple of weeks. This was before we had artificial turf, and everyone else on the team had dirty, grass-stained sweats.

"Here was Andrew in brand-spanking-new pants. And he was big, not in the condition he needed to be. He stuck out like a sore thumb. He looked like the Michelin Man."

As one of the nation's premier goalkeepers, Hampson has since garnered more positive reviews, but he'll leave it to others to explain that he has been one of the key figures in UMBC's growth into a contender for an NCAA berth. That's probably what's at stake for the No. 11 Retrievers today (1 p.m.), when they meet No. 10 Maryland at Byrd Stadium.

In Hampson's three seasons as a starter in the goal, UMBC is 28-11. Most important, it earned its first bid to the Division I tournament last year. It's a radical turnaround from his senior year at Boys' Latin, when the NCAA was as uninterested in the Retrievers as scholarship programs were in Hampson.

As a junior at Boys' Latin, Hampson didn't start. That summer, he struggled through the elite 205 Camp at Loyola College, but thrived on an Outward Bound scholarship. Two weeks of white-water rafting on tributaries of the Colorado River had him thinking that upscale lacrosse wasn't so important after all.

After Boys' Latin made the MIAA championship game in 1995, Zimmerman made offers to Chris Turner, who is UMBC's No. 2 all-time point-getter, and Jason Quenzer, a three-year starter on defense. Hampson? He headed to the University of Arizona to play club lacrosse and study biology.

"I love the outdoors," said Hampson, who knows the hot spots for trout on the Patapsco River. "I thought I was burned out on lacrosse, that I didn't want to play anymore. After one semester at Arizona, I was homesick and realized that I missed the game a whole lot."

Hampson has been friends with Josh Vicchio, a UMBC teammate, since they played together in the Catonsville youth program. Josh's father, Rocco, has been an assistant for all six of Zimmerman's seasons at UMBC, so he knew that Hampson was looking for a place to play. For the price of a long-distance phone call, Zimmerman finished a hasty recruiting rush.

The UMBC media guide lists Hampson as 6 feet 1, 220 pounds. He admits being 250 when he returned home three years ago, but he needed only a couple of months to climb past a senior and a recruited freshman. UMBC allowed a record 27 goals in a sorry 1996 effort at Towson. Hampson started the next game, and since has rarely been out of the lineup.

His goals-against average is a career-best 7.8. The Retrievers (10-3) have won seven straight. Defense wasn't the problem in late March when UMBC suffered successive losses to Duke, Georgetown and Penn State, as the Retrievers scored a combined 22 goals. Today, he'll try to stop a Maryland team (9-4) that has also had its share of offensive woes.

One of Hampson's finest efforts came last season against the Terps, when he had 19 saves in a 12-8 upset of what was then the nation's No. 1 team. After 17 fruitless seasons in Division I, that out- come finally secured UMBC an NCAA tournament berth. He has had a career season, and was recently named the Retrievers' Outstanding Senior Male Athlete.

"He's had as big an impact on his team as any goalie in the nation," said Navy coach Richie Meade, whose team connected on just three of 33 shots against Hampson in February. "I've seen a lot of UMBC games on film, and he always plays well. It's very difficult to find a gap on him, because of his positioning. I very rarely see him make mistakes on clearing passes."

Hampson became so solid and active, he worked both goals for UMBC last fall. As backup Steve Cusa, the only other goalie in camp, recovered from shoulder surgery, Hampson hustled from one end of the field to the other. Even with allowances for transition chances, Hampson thrived on the heavy workload.

"That kept Andrew in top-notch condition," Zimmerman said. "He would run 20 80-yard sprints in the course of a scrimmage."

Seems that UMBC got pretty good mileage out of the Michelin Man.

Hampson's stats

Season Goals allowed Save %

1996 15.7 .547

1997 8.8 .630

1998 10.0 .610

1999 7.8 .642

Career 9.6 .615

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