Smith's Goal Lifts Retrievers

Victory Sends Them To Fourth Consecutive America East Tournament Final

April 30, 2009|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,

Something about Binghamton in the America East tournament just doesn't sit well with the UMBC men's lacrosse team. And the Bearcats can't wait for Ryan Smith to graduate.

For the second time in as many America East tournament semifinals, the Retrievers were taken to overtime by Binghamton. And for the second time, Smith propelled No. 11 UMBC with the game-winner, this time scoring with 3:05 left in double overtime to send the hosts to a 9-8 victory Wednesday night before an announced 820 at UMBC Stadium.

Smith's goal was similar to the one he scored in the Retrievers' 6-5 victory May 1. Smith curled around the left post (last year, it was the right post) and beat Bearcats goalie Larry Kline (13 saves) with a jump shot in the slot.

"We just set up a pick from behind," Smith said of his only goal of the game. "Nobody slid to me. I guess they were expecting me to pass the ball. I just came around and shot."

Said Binghamton coach and former UMBC assistant coach Ed Stephenson: "Deja vu, huh? We had a double team on him, and we thought we had a nice check on him. But it didn't dislodge the ball. He ended up splitting the double team and being able to turn on the goal."

With the victory, the top-seeded Retrievers improved to 11-3 and advanced to their fourth consecutive tournament final. They won the championship in 2006 and 2008. UMBC, which is 6-3 all time in the tournament, will meet No. 20 and second seed Stony Brook (9-5) on Saturday.

It wasn't easy. Although the Retrievers are 9-1 against Binghamton, they have struggled with their conference foes in the tournament. UMBC won a 2006 semifinal matchup against the Bearcats, 6-3.

Wednesday night was no different. After attackman Matt Latham scored his second goal to give the Retrievers a 6-2 advantage with 12:33 left in the third quarter, No. 4 seed Binghamton (3-12) went on a 6-2 run - capped by Andy Cook's third goal with 53 seconds left in the fourth period - to tie the score at 7.

In the first overtime, Jake Boyce had a chance to pull off the upset for the Bearcats, but the senior attackman telegraphed his shot, and UMBC senior goalkeeper Jeremy Blevins made his ninth and final save to preserve the tie.

"I kind of expected him to go high," said Blevins, the reigning conference Player of the Year. "He didn't really throw a fake. He kept his stick high, so I just stayed with that."

In addition to Smith's game-winner, the Retrievers got five goals from starting attackmen Chris Jones (three) and Latham. The unit made up for a lackluster performance from the starting midfield of Peet Poillon (25 goals, 17 assists this season), Alex Hopmann (30, four) and Kyle Wimer (21, 15) - a trio that combined for one goal and three assists Wednesday.

"We just have to play with a little bit more poise, especially now with the championship on the line," coach Don Zimmerman said.

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