UMBC suffers rebuilding pains

Zimmerman expects share of mistakes, but is reluctant to tolerate sloppy play


March 15, 2000|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

UMBC coach Don Zimmerman knew there would be days like this in 2000.

A year after losing six starters from an 11-4 team that went to the NCAA tournament for the second straight season, the Retrievers are showing their youth. Two-thirds of their team are freshmen or sophomores, which led Zimmerman to refer to the 2000 squad as a "remodeling" project.

That didn't stop the coach from expressing some irritation with the Retrievers' play after three games. With Saturday's 12-8 loss to up-and-coming Cornell -- off to its best start since 1991 at 3-0 -- UMBC has fallen to 1-2.

And with an Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference date looming on Sunday at No. 4 Georgetown, the Retrievers could find themselves sliding toward the bottom of the standings soon. The Hoyas are the clear pick to earn an automatic NCAA berth, with ECAC member Navy having a good chance at an at-large selection.

The postseason is far from Zimmerman's mind these days.

"Before we worry about Georgetown or any other opponent, we've got to focus on ourselves. It's all about us right now," said Zimmerman, in his seventh year at UMBC.

"We had a rough go at Cornell. We continue to hurt ourselves with a lot of little things, basic fundamentals, some as simple as catching and throwing. Too many unforced turnovers. Our youth is continuing to hurt us. Hopefully, some of our so-called go-to guys will step up."

One of Zimmerman's priorities is beefing up a disappointing offense, which has produced just 10 goals in the team's two losses. UMBC's lone victory came against Mount St. Mary's.

Attackman Dan Marohl and midfielder Jeff Ratcliffe have fallen short of Zimmerman's expectations in the early going. Josh Hahn, fourth on the team in scoring a year ago, is being shifted from midfield to attack. Sophomore attackman Collin Meerholz, who scored five times against Mount St. Mary's, has been benched.

Meerholz "has got a lot of potential, but he's got to show it," said Zimmerman, who is still juggling his midfield units. "The guys who are consistent are the guys who are going to play."

Princeton gets lesson

Princeton coach Bill Tierney knew the Tigers were heading into dangerous territory Saturday when they ventured into Charlottesville to play the defending national champion Virginia Cavaliers.

And even suffering his most lopsided defeat in five years, Tierney was not surprised that Virginia dismantled his young, talented team by a 15-8 count.

That marked Princeton's worst loss since it dropped an 11-4 decision to Virginia in the second game of the 1995 season.

The best thing Princeton did was score four goals in the game's first eight minutes to take a 4-2 lead. It was pretty much downhill from there.

"Timing is an important aspect of this game. We ran into one of the best teams out there, and they were coming off a loss," said Tierney, whose team opened the season by pounding Johns Hopkins, 15-11. That same day, Virginia opened the defense of its title by losing at home in overtime to Syracuse.

Virginia "probably felt like it got caught napping against Syracuse. They were certainly not going to be asleep against us," Tierney said. "They were a lot cleaner and crisper than they were in their first game. If a loss stirred them into that kind of emotion, hopefully it will stir us into the same kind of emotion."

In other words, look out, Hofstra. The Flying Dutchmen travel on Saturday to Princeton for the Tigers' home opener.

Princeton has not lost two straight games since the beginning of the 1995 season.

Loyola's Metz comes up big

Loyola defenseman David Metz is listed at 5 feet 10, although he stood plenty tall while harassing 6-feet-2 Jared Frood, Duke's All-America attackman, throughout the Greyhounds' 11-10 victory over the Blue Devils.

Frood scored one goal, and it took him more than 57 minutes to find the net.

Asked if 5-10 is a suspiciously high measurement of his actual height, Metz smiled and said, "I'm 5-10 with heels on."

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