UMBC wins America East title

Westervelt's career-high 9 points lift Retrievers into NCAA tournament for 1st time since 1999

UMBC 19 Albany 10

College lacrosse

May 08, 2006|By GARY LAMBRECHT | GARY LAMBRECHT,SUN REPORTER

Minutes after completing the most productive game of his collegiate career, and leading his team to its first NCAA men's lacrosse tournament appearance of the millennium in the process, UMBC junior attackman Drew Westervelt offered an understatement.

"We were moving the ball well, and I was getting the ball in good spots," he said.

That partly explains how Westervelt dissected unranked Albany in yesterday's America East Conference championship game at UMBC Stadium, before 1,227. It partly explains how he scored a career-high six goals, and added three assists for a career-high nine points, to lead No. 14 UMBC to a 19-10 rout of the Great Danes, giving the Retrievers their first America East Conference title.

By virtue of an automatic qualifier, UMBC (10-4) will play in its first NCAA tournament since 1999 - its third berth overall since moving to Division I in 1981 - facing Princeton on Saturday.

With some notable help from senior attackman Brendan Mundorf, sophomore Taylor Marino (St. Paul's), who won 18 of 31 faceoffs, and a defense that buckled down while the Retrievers took control in the middle of the game, Westervelt (John Carroll) took the suspense out of yesterday's affair early.

He was a dodging, passing and sharpshooting machine in the first half. With five goals and two assists by halftime, he was largely responsible for a commanding 9-4 halftime lead. The Retrievers never led by fewer than four goals after that, and a six-goal third quarter - including Westervelt's final goal that made it 13-7 - put Albany in a 15-8 hole. UMBC had never beaten the Great Danes (8-7) by more than one.

Mundorf, the two-time conference Player of the Year, earned tournament Most Valuable Player honors with five goals and one assist, and he did it on 5-for-7 shooting, mainly in the second half. He and Westervelt combined to make 11 of 18 attempts. Mundorf (Mount St. Joseph) scored three goals in the third quarter.

UMBC, which extended its winning streak to six games and has won eight of its past nine, had not won an America East tournament game in two previous years, despite being on its home field each time. Last year, the top-seeded Retrievers lost to Stony Brook in the semifinals.

This year's Retrievers were not about to blow it as the top seed. Not with a defense that, before yesterday, had held nine straight opponents to single digits. Not with an offense that has scored in double figures in all but one of its victories during UMBC's 8-1 run, including a 20-9 pounding of Stony Brook nine days ago. Not with a team that blew through its league undefeated during the regular season.

And UMBC showed last weekend it can win using different styles. After battling fourth-seeded Binghamton's slow tempo and matchup zone defense with a scrappy 6-3 win in the semifinals on Friday, the Retrievers played the run-and-gun game beautifully with Albany (8-7).

"What you saw was a combination of good talent and great chemistry. It's all about attitude," said Don Zimmerman, UMBC's 13-year coach. "I think our team is peaking at the right time." gary.lambrecht@baltsun.com

Albany 3 1 4 2 - 10

UMBC 6 3 6 4 - 19

Goals: A-Resetarits 4, Thomson 3, Levine, Dale, Small; U-Westervelt 6, Mundorf 5, Kimener 2, Gallagher 2, Hopmann 2, Hyland, Kay. Assists: A-Resetarits, Wolf, Levine, Dale, M. Ammann, Martocchia, S. Ammann; U-Westervelt 3, Kimener 2, Mundorf, Hyland. Saves: A-Queener 16; U-Blevins 11, Coker 1.

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