But with the Hawks winning 80 percent (24-of-30) of faceoffs, the Hartford (4-10, 1-4 America East Conference) offense woke up late in the first quarter and upset UMBC (4-8, 3-2), outscoring the Retrievers 14-8 the rest of the way in a 14-12 victory.
UMBC, which had clinched a conference tournament berth before Saturday’s game, will host a semifinal game on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.
The Hawks, with no reason left to play on the last Saturday of the year, looked more like a tournament team most of the afternoon.
UMBC coach Don Zimmerman said the Hawks "completely dominated" the Retrievers on faceoffs.
“When you score a goal and get the ball right back, and right back, and right back” it’s tough to play defense, Zimmerman said.
The game’s momentum shifted to the Hawks in the second period, when Hartford won 7-of-8 face-offs and scored five times to take a 7-6 lead heading into halftime.
The third quarter was another rough one for the UMBC defense, as the Hawks scored five goals and went into the fourth quarter with a 12-9 lead.
The Hawks scored four straight times spanning the second and third quarters before Latham ended their unanswered streak with a goal just under four minutes into the second half.
The way the day started, it seemed as if the Retrievers might take Hartford out of contention early.
UMBC jumped on Hartford quickly, starting with Matt Latham’s goal less than five minutes into the game. Latham scored again with 7:51 remaining in the quarter to make it 2-0.
Kimbles and Maxx Davis also added first quarter goals as UMBC scored four times before the Hawks’ Vinny Pellizzi scored with 2:15 remaining. Pellizzi’s score was followed by Carter Bender’s goal with 44 seconds left, which made the score 4-2.
Early on, even the UMBC defense was in the scoring mood.
Less than two minutes into the second quarter, senior close defender Matt Kresse streaked down the field, shot and scored the first goal of his career.
Latham said the team may have “started relaxing” after building a first quarter lead. He put an end to a Hartford 4-0 run with 11:23 remaining in the third period when he scored his fourth and final goal of the game off an assist from Davis.
Zimmerman said the loss, coming after a three game winning streak, might serve to remind the team that it must play efficiently in each phase of the game in order to have success.
“You’ve got to always try to turn a negative into a positive,” Zimmerman said.
Before the game, the team held a ceremony to honor its 16 seniors, a class that includes standout midfielders Kyle Wimer and Mike Camardo as well as attackman Matt Latham, the Retrievers’ leading goal-scorer.