Defense lifts Retrievers

Blevins, Berdeguez smother attack in America East semifinal as Kimener scores 3 goals

UMBC 6 Binghamton 3


It didn't come easily last night for the UMBC men's lacrosse team, yet the No. 14 Retrievers paved the way to their conference championship game, and now have an NCAA tournament spot in their sights.

UMBC confronted nerves, spotty shooting and spates of turnovers, not to mention a tenacious Binghamton defense. But in the second half of their America East semifinal contest at UMBC Stadium, the Retrievers rode their outstanding defense and the opportunistic play of sophomore midfielder Terry Kimener to a 6-3 victory.

The win, UMBC's first in three America East tournaments and fifth straight overall, sends the Retrievers (9-4) into tomorrow's league championship game against Albany, which defeated Stony Brook, 14-13, in overtime in last night's other semifinal. The league champion receives an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, where UMBC has not been since 1999.

Kimener scored three goals and had two and an assist in the second half. Each of his scores came after he made athletic moves in unsettled situations in a sloppy game that produced plenty of them. The UMBC defense, led by freshman goalie Jeremy Blevins (Calvert Hall) and senior defensemen Justin Berdeguez (Annapolis) and Luke Powell, took care of the rest by holding Binghamton (7-8) to one goal in the final 41:17.

"Defensively, I couldn't be happier with our performance. Offensively, we were out of whack," UMBC coach Don Zimmerman said. "I think the guys were tight. Some of our guys were trying too hard. The bottom line was, when the game was on the line, some kids stepped up."

After Kimener produced the game's final goal with 2:57 left by splitting a double team from behind the cage that included Bearcats senior goalie Kevin McKeown, the Retrievers finally could begin to breath easily, having secured their seventh victory in the past eight outings.

Defense is nothing new at UMBC, which matched its second-lowest scoring output of the year, but has held nine consecutive opponents in single digits. Last night marked the first time in six years the Retrievers had held a team to three goals.

Binghamton managed one goal and two shots on goal in the second half. The Bearcats' top two scorers, freshmen attackmen Chris Mulheron and Jake Boyce, were held to a combined one goal and one assist, mainly due to Berdeguez and Powell. Blevins made six of his eight saves in a strong first half.

"I stood my ground, kept my feet still and waited for them to shoot [in the first half]. Some of the shots were in good spots," Blevins said. "I really didn't have to do too much in the second half."

The Bearcats took a 2-1 lead with 11:17 left in the first half when junior attackman Rob Williams (two goals) raked in a loose ball from 7 yards out. Kimener answered with 8:57 to go by grabbing a loose ball after the Retrievers forced Binghamton into a failed clear with an aggressive ride. He scored from in close to make it 2-2 at the half.

Kimener then assisted junior attackman Drew Westervelt (John Carroll), who scored from point-blank range to give UMBC a 4-2 lead midway through the third quarter. Kimener completed a pivotal 3-0 run 36 seconds into the fourth quarter. Following one of Binghamton's 20 turnovers, he dodged up top, and ripped an 11-yarder into the upper-right corner to make it 5-2.

Binghamton 1 1 0 1 - 3

UMBC 1 1 2 2 - 6

Goals: B- Williams 2, Boyce; UMBC- Kimener 3, Westervelt, Mundorf, Moulden. Assists: B- Williams, Mulheron; UMBC-Kimener, Westervelt, Mundorf. Saves: B- McKeown 9; UMBC-Blevins 8. A: 500.

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