Loyola at UMBC: Three things to watch

Factors include UMBC's possessions, Loyola's energy level and Retrievers' shot selection

March 24, 2012|By Edward Lee

UMBC owns a 16-13 lead in this series, but these in-state rivals last met in 2005. No. 8 Loyola (7-0) is enjoying its best start since 2002 and seeking its first 8-0 opening since 1999. The Retrievers (2-3) had an unusual break in their schedule and got to rest last weekend. Here are a few factors that could play a role in the outcome at UMBC Stadium in Catonsville on Saturday night.

1) UMBC’s possessions. Loyola entered the week ranked fifth in Division I in scoring, averaging 13.3 goals per game. The Greyhounds were also second in groundballs (36.7) and fifth in caused turnovers (9.8) and faceoff percentage (60.8). Those numbers suggest that Loyola gets a lot of possessions, which, in turn, puts the onus on the Retrievers to value their possessions and keep the ball away from the Greyhounds. “I think what you have to do is you have to make certain that when you have the ball, you’re going to make the most out of those opportunities,” UMBC coach Don Zimmerman said. “Loyola loves to run, and if you turn the ball over or take poor shots against this goalkeeper – which is like a turnover – you’re giving Loyola the ball back in a transition situation, and that’s where they’re at their best.”

2) Loyola’s legs. The Greyhounds beat Georgetown, 11-6, on Wednesday night, but now get just two days to prepare for UMBC. That might not bode well for a team that is outscoring opponents by just two goals in first quarters. “[R]ight now, we’re in the midst of three games in eight days. So with short preparation and short rest, I know that it might be tough to answer the bell,” coach Charley Toomey said. “They did what they needed to do, and I give them credit, but we want to guard against having that feeling that we can get going for 15 minutes and to finish a team off. We want to be a 60-minute team.” 

3) UMBC’s shot selection. The Retrievers have scored on just 25.3 percent of their shots (41-of-162) and are placing 49.4 percent of their attempts (80-of-162) on net. Those numbers will likely have to improve against Loyola sophomore goalie Jack Runkel, who is listed at 6 feet, 3 inches and 225 pounds. But there’s a fine line between picking spots and putting shots on cage just for the sake of hitting the net. “You can’t get too particular, and that happens,” Zimmerman said. “A goalkeeper all of a sudden makes some saves, and your shooters start to get a little tentative, and then it snowballs in the wrong direction. At the same time, you can’t just sling it and hope that it goes in. So you have to work the ball around, work for high-quality shots, and be confident that if you have one, you’re going to put it in the right spot and make the goalkeeper make a save.”

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