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Sloppy UMBC lacrosse loses 11-7 to Albany in AEC tournament semis

Less than three minutes into the game, senior midfielder Maxx Davis scored UMBC’s first goal, giving the home team a 1-0 advantage and a brief bit of momentum in the America East semifinals.

But any sense of momentum was short-lived, as Albany scored four straight goals and never looked back in an 11-7 dismantling of the Retrievers, who are eliminated from postseason play and finish their season at 4-9.

“After that first goal I think we might have lit a bit of a fire under their bellies,” said Davis, a senior playing in his last game.

UMBC played its sloppiest game of a disappointing season four days after they had a three game winning streak ended by the conference’s last place team, Hartford, on Saturday.

Senior midfielder Kyle Wimer, who had scored a point in 31 consecutive games, was shut out in his final collegiate game. Senior attack Matt Latham, who scored six goals against Albany (5-10) in the two teams’ last meeting, was also held scoreless.

UMBC coach Don Zimmerman said the Great Danes seemed to be paying special attention to Wimer and Latham, the Retrievers’ top-two scorers.

“We didn’t take advantage of that by moving the ball and finding the open man,” Zimmerman said. When the Retrievers did find an open shot, it was usually off-target.

“[It was] a combination of them applying some pressure on us and our guys not being as sharp as they needed to be for this game,” Zimmerman said.

UMBC certainly didn’t seem like the same team that was able to win three straight against Binghamton, Albany and Vermont before falling to Hartford in the regular season finale on Saturday. The Retrievers turned the ball over 21 times Wednesday.

“Maybe we were a little unsure of ourselves after that loss” to the Hawks, Zimmerman said.

The Great Danes will now travel to Stony Brook to play for the America East Championship.

After Davis scored the game’s first goal, it was all Albany for the rest of the evening.

The Great Danes scored four straight goals in just under a two-minute span starting with 9:30 remaining in the first quarter and the Retrievers never seemed to recover.

Chris Jones scored twice at the end of the first quarter and Rob Grimm added a score with 6:03 remaining in the second, but UMBC didn’t get on the board again until Grimm scored again in the third.

Grimm’s goal with 12:45 left in the game, off a Davis assist, was UMBC’s first in more than 20 minutes.

Grimm led the team in scoring with three goals and one assist.

Davis, who scored one goal and had two assists, said the Albany defense played zone for portions of the game, which they did not do when the teams played on April 17.

While the Retrievers couldn’t score, when the Great Danes had the ball, they had little trouble beating UMBC keeper Adam Cohen.

Cohen, who up until Wednesday night had stabilized the Retrievers at goal, allowed nine scores and saved only two shots against Albany.

After Rocky Bonitatibus scored with 9:37 remaining in the fourth quarter, Zimmerman had seen enough from his freshman goalkeeper.

Zimmerman said it may have been a “case of freshmanitis” that turned the recently steady Cohen into a liability in the Retrievers’ last two games.

“We weren’t getting any saves … he wasn’t real crisp in seeing the ball,” Zimmerman said. “He didn’t have a great night tonight, and that’s going to happen.”

Despite Cohen’s struggle, Zimmerman said you had to give the freshman credit for stabilizing the position at midseason, allowing the Retrievers to make a run into the conference tournament.

Senior goalie Kevin Kohri, who twice lost his job to Cohen this season, entered immediately following Albany’s score, which gave them a 9-5 advantage.

Kohri allowed the final two goals to put the cap on one of the most disappointing seasons of Zimmerman’s coaching career.

“Every player and coach on this team has to do some soul-searching,” Zimmerman said.

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