April 30, 2009

Courtesy of UMBC

Baltimore, Md. - Senior attackman Ryan Smith (Fallston, Md./Fallston/CCBC-Essex) scored an unassisted goal 55 seconds into the second overtime period as top-seeded UMBC (11-3) edged fourth-seeded Binghamton (3-12), 9-8, to advance to their fourth consecutive America East championship game. UMBC will host second-seeded Stony Brook (9-5) on Saturday, May 2 at 7:30 p.m. The Seawolves defeated third-seeded Albany (7-7), 18-12, in Stony Brook, N.Y. UMBC has won eight consecutive overtime games and is now 14-4 in head coach Don Zimmerman's 16 years at the helm.

Ironically, it was Smith who got scored the game-winner 53 seconds in overtime last season, as UMBC eliminated the Bearcats, 6-5, in the conference semifinals. Tonight marked the fourth consecutive year that UMBC and Binghamton had squared off in the league semifinals.

Freshman midfielder Justin Radebaugh (Lutherville, Md./Boys Latin) won the draw to open the second overtime stanza. Bearcat netminder Larry Kline made a save an outside shot by Retriever senior midfielder Alex Hopmann (Annapolis, Md./Annapolis), but junior middie Kyle Wimer (Lancaster, Pa.) snagged the loose ball in traffic. After a timeout, Smith got the ball behind the goal, used a screen to beat his defender, moved into great scoring position and scored on a bounce shot from five yards in front of the cage.

Junior attackman Chris Jones (Martinsville, N.J.) led UMBC with three goals, while junior attackman Matt Latham (Eldersburg, Md./Liberty) added a pair. Binghamton junior attackman Andy Cook scored three goals for the visitors, while senior linemate Chris Mulheron added a goal and two assists.

The Bearcats battled back from a 6-2 deficit early in the third quarter and drew even late in the fourth quarter on an unlikely goal by Cook. UMBC senior netminder Jeremy Blevins (Cockeysville, Md./Calvert Hall) made a save on a Steve Carlson shot, but lost possession of the ball as he was exiting the crease. Cook managed to get the loose ball, and dove out front to score on a backhanded shot with 2:31 remaining and tie the game at seven.

UMBC recaptured the lead 31 seconds later, as Hopmann scored his team-leading 31st goal of the season on a hard outside bouncer from 13 yards away. But Binghamton won next face-off and Cook took a Mulheron feed and scored from the right wing on an eight-yard shot with 53 seconds remaining. Binghamton won the next draw, but Carlson's hurried shot with two seconds remaining was well wide of the cage. The Bearcats had the best scoring chance in the first overtime, but Blevins thwarted BU's Jake Boyce from close range in the first minute of sudden death.

Kline made some dazzling plays early in the game as UMBC dominated play in the early going. They outshot the Bearcats, 14-5, in the first 15 minutes, and did grab a 2-0 lead, but Kline made four saves and scored from close range on a full-field dash at the 4:53 mark of the stanza. Jones opened the second quarter with a goal at the 2:39 mark and closed a 3-1 UMBC run with an unassisted score with just 12 seconds to play in the first half to give the Retrievers momentum and a 5-2 lead.

UMBC has won nine straight games over Binghamton, including the 13-4 triumph at UMBC Stadium on April 4. But the Retrievers have won the four America East semifinal contests by a total of nine goals. Blevins made nine saves for UMBC and the America East Conference Player of the Year moved into a tie for fifth place on the all-time wins list with 43. Kline made 13 saves for the Bearcats, as UMBC outshot Binghamton, 46-25. Radebaugh won 14 of 22 draws and corralled a season-high 11 ground balls.

The meeting with the Seawolves will be just the second in America East history for the Retrievers and the first since a 12-6 Stony Brook semifinal win at UMBC in 2005. UMBC has won four straight games in the series, leading it, 10-4, including a 14-8 victory at Stony Brook on March 28. UMBC won the 2006 and 2008 title games over Albany at UMBC Stadium and fell in the 2007 comtest at Albany.