Men’s Lacrosse Wins America East Title
The UMBC men’s lacrosse program achieved what most lacrosse observers believed was impossible at the beginning of the 2006 season. They went through the regular season unscathed (5-0), and then the top-seeded Retrievers won their first America East Conference Tournament by defeating third-seeded University of Albany 19-10 at UMBC Stadium on Sunday. The winner of the America East Conference tournament earns an automatic berth into the NCAA Division I tournament. It is UMBC’s first berth in the tournament since 1999, when they made their second of back-to-back appearances in the championships.
The top-seeded Retrievers defeated third-seeded University of Albany 19-10. The winner of the America East Conference tournament earns an automatic berth into the NCAA Division I tournament. This is UMBC’s third NCAA tournament berth overall since moving to Division I in 1981.
“These guys just came ready to play,” said Head Coach Don Zimmerman, who led the Retrievers to their first-ever NCAA Division I tournament appearance in 1998. “They believe in themselves…what you saw is a combination of some good talent, but great chemistry and a great attitude. I couldn’t be prouder of these guys.”
Lacrosse success at UMBC this spring was not limited to the men’s program. The UMBC women’s lacrosse team finished the season with a 12-10 record. They earned the right to host the America East tourney as the conference No. 1 seed but lost on May 5 in the America East semifinal to New Hampshire. Two UMBC seniors, Julie Libertini (Mount de Sales) and Kelly Fiorani (Liberty High School in Eldersburg, Md.) were named to the 2006 America East Women’s Lacrosse All-Championship Team, the conference announced on May 7.
On May 13, the men’s team will travel to Princeton University. The game time for this opening-round meeting with Princeton will be announced later in the week.
If the Retrievers upset Princeton, the No. 7 seed, they will advance to the quarterfinals on May 21 against the winner of an opening-round game between the University of Maryland and Denver. The quarterfinal will be played at a neutral site, Towson University.
The 16-team tournament concludes with the Final Four championships on Memorial Day weekend at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. The University of Virginia is the tournament’s overall No. 1 seed. The other top four seeds are, in descending order, Maryland, Hofstra and Johns Hopkins.
The Retrievers enter the 2006 tournament on a six-game winning streak. In winning eight of their past nine, they have erased some of the bitter memory of losing at home each of the past two years in the America East tournament.
Defense has been a foundation of the 2006 team. Before defeating Albany to clinch the America East title, the Retrievers had held nine straight opponents, including Maryland, to single digits.
However, UMBC carries several outstanding players on offense, including Brendan Mundorf. The senior from Baltimore ( Mt. St. Joseph’s) is a two-time America East Conference Player of the Year. Against Albany in the America East title game, Mundorf had five goals and one assist and was named the tournament most valuable player.
Indeed, Mundorf is central to a “strength-against-strength” matchup that should be central to the May 13 opening-round game at Princeton. While Mundorf is one of the top attackmen in Division I, he will have to contend with Princeton’s standout goaltender, sophomore Alex Hewit, who has led Division I goaltenders in save percentage throughout the season.
Zimmerman has succeeded in recruiting standout lacrosse talent from the greater Baltimore-Annapolis region. Of the 35 players on the UMBC roster, 17 are from the Baltimore-Annapolis area. Among the seniors, those players are Mundorf, defenseman Justin Berdeguez (Annapolis High School), defenseman James Hyland (St. Mary’s of Annapolis) and transfer student and midfielder P.J. Kimener (Community College of Baltimore County-Catonsville).