May 9, 2009

Courtesy of UMBC Athletics

CHAPEL HILL, N.C.--The UMBC men's lacrosse season came to a close as the Retrievers (12-4) fell to North Carolina (12-5), 15-13, in the first round of the NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championships before 1,431 on Saturday in Chapel Hill, N.C.

In a game that featured five lead changes and seven ties, North Carolina's Billy Bitter scored eight goals on nine shots and goalie James Petracca made two key saves of senior Matt Latham (Eldersburg, Md./Liberty) down the stretch as the Retrievers were only able to score once in the last 12 minutes in the game.

Latham opened the scoring two and a half minutes into the game, but Bitter tied the game off a pass from Bart Wagner, who finished with two goals and three assists. The middle of the game saw big runs as after Latham scored to give the Retrievers a 3-2 lead, the Tar Heels scored four straight. The Retrievers scored six in a row in the end of the second and beginning of the third to take a 9-6 lead, but UNC followed with four straight in the middle of the third to take a 10-9 lead.

UNC scored three goals in a row at the end of the third and beginning of the fourth, but Poillon scored at 12:12 to bring cut the UNC lead to 13-12. After Wagner and Bitter scored to give the Tar Heels a 15-12 lead, Hopmann cut the lead to two before Petracca made the saves of Latham to seal the victory.

Senior goalie Jeremy Blevins (Cockeysville, Md./Calvert Hall) made 12 saves and finishes his stellar career with 628, fourth-most in school history.

"Our seniors did a nice job in leading this team," said head coach Don Zimmerman. "Our goal was to win a national championship and we fell short, now it is up to the underclassmen to pick up the torch."

Senior Alex Hopmann (Annapolis, Md./Annapolis) scored three goals and finished the season with 36 which is tied for the 11th most in a single season in UMBC history. Junior Chris Jones (Martinsville, N.J./Bridgewater-Raritan) earned a hat-trick for the third time in his last three outings. Junior Kyle Wimer (Lancaster, Pa./Hempfield) also scored three goals and seniors Ryan Smith (Fallston, Md./Fallston) and Peet Poillon (Cranberry Township, Pa./Seneca Valley/Ohio State) each had a goal and two assists.

It was UMBC's seventh overall and fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. Today's game was the 400th NCAA Division I game in UMBC's history. The 12 wins this season ties 2008 as the most wins in a season at the Division I level in school history.