The UMBC attack clicked like it rarely has during the 2000 season, and the Retrievers used that talent yesterday to win on Towson's campus for the first time in 20 seasons as a Division I program.
But coach Don Zimmerman was not exactly glowing with praise, after UMBC nearly let a seven-goal halftime lead slip away, before finishing the Tigers, 17-15, at Minnegan Stadium.
Junior attackman Josh Hahn led the way with a career-high four goals and three assists, scoring all of his goals in succession during a 7-0 run that ended the first half and put UMBC on top 12-5.
Senior attackman Jeff Ratcliffe scored a team-high five goals, moving to within one of 100 for his career. Senior attackman Dan Marohl dished out three assists to go with one goal.
Yet the Retrievers (5-6) did not put away Towson (2-7) until goalie Steve Cusa stuffed a 10-yard shot by Keith Smith with 10 seconds remaining, spoiling a second half in which the Tigers gave up five goals after sleepwalking through the first two quarters on defense.
Zimmerman frowned at the way UMBC stopped making the extra pass and working the ball in close to the cage, after burning the Tigers inside repeatedly. The Retrievers even converted all four extra-man chances in the first half, before scoring their 12th goal with one second left before the break. Two Tigers goalkeepers produced a combined one save.
"Our guys have to understand the importance of staying with the game plan," Zimmerman said. "Towson came out and forced some turnovers, but we stopped doing what got us to a seven-goal lead. We were getting layups in the first half. In the second half, we started taking 15-foot shots. That's just not acceptable at this level."
The Tigers, who already had lost faceoff specialist Justin Berry to a season-ending knee injury, were hampered further by the loss of freshman Danny Cocchi, their best defenseman. Cocchi underwent a tonsillectomy yesterday and is done for the season.
Tigers coach Tony Seaman fumed while watching his defense play flat-footed throughout the first half. Towson's inability to catch and throw also kept its offense from getting started. But the Tigers, behind Brad Reppert's five goals -- four in the second half -- scored 10 goals after halftime.
Reppert's final score with 22 seconds left brought Towson to within 17-15, the closest the Tigers had been in nearly 42 minutes.
"We played horribly in the first half. We didn't come out to play, and we even gave one [goal] away with no time left," Seaman said. "They scored those seven [unanswered] goals, and no goalie was going to make those saves."
Seaman tried three of them. He gave freshman goalie John Hunt his first career start, then pulled him after the Retrievers took a 7-5 lead with 12: 10 left.
John Horrigan, the team's starter all year, then absorbed a 5-0 pounding, thanks partly to several point-blank shots. Senior Sam Hudson played the entire second half, recording eight saves.
The Tigers face back-to-back games at Vermont and Hartford, both America East opponents. One victory would give Towson the fourth seed in the conference tournament. A sweep this weekend would give them the third seed.
The Retrievers will try to reach .500 at Radford on Saturday.