A plan to build UMBC’s defense around the return of two starters was nearly derailed in the fall.
Junior Sam McKelvey, who accumulated 16 ground balls and four caused turnovers in 11 games (eight starts) last season, underwent ankle surgery in the fall. Such an operation would usually require months of rehabilitation, but not for the Davidsonville native and South River graduate.
“[W]e thought we lost him for the year after ankle surgery,” coach Don Zimmerman said Wednesday. “To his credit, he worked very hard in rehab and went to see the doctor, and the doctor said, ‘You’re cleared.’ He’s not in good shape, and we’re going to bring him back at the right pace because we don’t want to get him all back at once. But having Sam back now is a big plus for us.”
Until McKelvey returns, the projected starting defense includes senior Aaron Verardi, junior Ethan Murphy and redshirt freshman Ian Gray. Freshman Seth Mackin also figures to contribute.
Speaking of Verardi, he has returned to practice after tweaking his hamstring. Zimmerman said the Lutherville native and Boys’ Latin graduate is at full strength and estimated that junior midfielder Nick Doub, who is also back after suffering a high ankle sprain, is at about 85 percent.