UMBC thrown off and out

Retrievers' offense stalls

Delaware reaches final four for 1st time

Delaware 10 UMBC 6

May 21, 2007|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,Sun reporter

For a while in yesterday's NCAA Division I men's lacrosse tournament quarterfinal, things looked promising for UMBC, and its first final four berth seemed within reach. The Retrievers had turned two early Delaware penalties into a two-goal lead, and one of the hottest offenses in the NCAA had yet to catch fire.

But the flame never ignited for the Retrievers at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, where Delaware used its aggressiveness on defense and its size and speed on offense to muzzle UMBC and ease away to a 10-6 victory before 10,438.

In a battle of unseeded teams, the Blue Hens got three goals apiece from senior midfielders Jordan Hall and Dan Deckelbaum, held the vaunted UMBC offense to three goals over the last 39 minutes, and moved on to their first national semifinal.

One week after stunning No. 2 seed and defending national champion Virginia, Delaware (13-5) earned a date with No. 3 seed Johns Hopkins on Saturday at M&T Bank Stadium.

UMBC (11-6), playing in its first quarterfinal after failing in the first round of three Division I tournaments, went down after basically running out of gas. A week after upsetting seventh-seeded Maryland in College Park, 13-9, the nation's seventh-ranked offense matched its season low in scoring.

"We definitely didn't get a rhythm going. We never got comfortable around them," senior attackman Drew Westervelt said. "We had some spots here and there, but we never got things the way we wanted them."

Westervelt (two goals, two assists), senior attackman Andy Gallagher (one goal, one assist) and freshman attackman Cayle Ratcliff (one goal) had largely carried the Retrievers through the 7-1 streak that got them here.

Yesterday, the trio that had combined for 108 goals coming into the game barely could get started against a bullying defense led by senior Rob Smith. The Blue Hens needed only six saves from junior goalie Tommy Scherr, since they allowed only 27 shots, including just 16 through the first three quarters.

Predictably, UMBC lost the faceoff battle decisively to Delaware senior Alex Smith, who won 12 of 19 draws.

But the real problem was, when they had possession, the Retrievers couldn't stretch the Delaware defense with dodges or passes and had trouble generating many quality shots. UMBC also could get little unsettled offense going, as Delaware won the ground-ball battle by a hefty 36-24.

"You can't prepare for a defense like that," UMBC coach Don Zimmerman said. "We play position, a much more controlled offense. They wouldn't allow us to get in sync offensively. The helter-skelter style they play, it threw us off.

"They're a big, strong team, and I think their athleticism started to wear us down a little bit."

At the other end, players such as Deckelbaum (Owings Mills) and Hall were too much for UMBC's younger, smaller defenders to handle. The Blue Hens attacked the Retrievers from the outside early, then bore down on sophomore goalie Jeremy Blevins (Calvert Hall) in the second half and got open repeatedly on the crease.

After trailing UMBC 3-1 early, Delaware roared back to score nine of the game's last 12 goals.

The high-water mark for the Retrievers came in the second quarter, when UMBC turned a 1-1 tie into a 3-1 lead with 8:52 left on extra-man goals by Gallagher and Westervelt.

Then, it was all Delaware. And now, the Blue Hens, a team that fell to 6-5 at midseason and was in danger of missing the Colonial Athletic Association tournament - they won it and gained an automatic bid to the NCAAs - get a crack at Hopkins.

"From the beginning of the season, we always knew we had the potential. We ran into a tough spot and suffered a number of injuries early on. We stuck to it and now we have another week to go," Delaware coach Bob Shillinglaw said.

"This is a terrific moment for our program and hopefully it will be a steppingstone for its future."

Delaware 1 2 3 4 - 10

UMBC 1 2 1 2 - 6

Goals: D-Deckelbaum 3, Hall 3, Zuder-Havens 2, Dickson 2; UMBC-Westervelt 2, Gallagher, Kimener, Hopmann, Ratcliff. Assists: D-Moran 2, Deckelbaum, Hall, Hitchborn, Smith; UMBC- Westervelt 2, Gallagher. Saves: D-Scherr 6; UMBC-Blevins 10. A: 10,438.

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