Stony Brook, N.Y. – Senior Joe Lustgarten (Wading River, N.Y./Shoreham-Wading River) capped a furious UMBC rally with the game-winning score with 55 seconds remaining and added an insurance marker 21 seconds later as No. 3 UMBC defeated No. 2 Hartford, 15-13, in the America East Conference semifinals at Stony Brook’s LaValle Stadium.
The Retrievers (7-7) advance to their first championship game since 2009, where they will face No. 1 Albany, a 1715 winner over No. 4 Stony Brook.
Lustgarten led the Retrievers with four goals and two assists, while senior attackman Scott Jones (Port Coquitlam, B.C./Terry Fox) and freshman midfielder Pat Young (Ewing, N.J./Christchurch School) added three goals each for UMBC. Junior face-off specialist Phil Poe (Harwood, Md./DeMatha) won 22 of 29 face-offs in the game, including 10 of 11 in the fourth quarter.
“Down the stretch, when it counted, these guys stepped up and won a big, tough ballgame against a very good Hartford team,” said head coach Don Zimmerman “We have worked hard this year. In the last six minutes…, the team we believe we can be and are,showed up and got us the win.”
UMBC trailed the Hawks, 13-9, after Hartford’s Jared Franze capped a 4-0 Hawk run with a score at the 10:18 mark of the fourth quarter. But Poe would win the final six face-offs of the game to turn the tide back to UMBC.
Lustgarten broke the drought with his second goal of the day with 5:46 remaining. Just 81 seconds later, the Retreivers had cut the deficit to 13-12, as senior attackman Matt Gregore (Crofton, Md./South River) and Jones scored in a span of 29 seconds.
The Hawks committed a penalty with 2:30 remaining, and Young took advantage, dodging a man at the top and bouncing a shot past UH goalkeeper Frank Piechota to knot the score at 13-all with 2:01 remaining.
Lustgarten, who scored a career-high five goals vs. Hartford in 2012, was not to be denied in the final minute. On the game-winning goal, he dodged from behind the left side of the net, got to the middle and bounced a shot past Piechota.
Poe controlled the ensuing draw, but the ball was knocked away along the sideline. Lustgarten won the ground ball battle, drove in and scored the insurance goal with 34 seconds to play.
UMBC senior midfielder Dave Brown (Coopersburg, Pa./The Hill School) added two goals for UMBC. Hartford (7-7) was led by freshman attackman Jack Bobzien, who scored five goals.
UMBC controlled play for much of the first half, as the Retrievers controlled 9-of-13 face offs and outshot the Hawks, 24-17. UMBC got out to a 3-1 lead after one quarter, as junior midfielder Will Fejes (Solomons, Md./St. Mary’s Ryken) scored his first career goal to break the ice 3:53 into the game. Brown and Young added scores for the Retrievers, and Young’s score occurred with 12 seconds to play in the first stanza .
The Retrievers would extend the lead to as many as four goals, on Young’s second goal of the half, as UMBC took a 7-3 advantage with 2:06 to play in the frame. But Hartford took advantage of a late Retriever foul, and scored an extra-man goal with 18 ticks remaining in the half and sliced UMBC’s lead to 7-4 at the break.
But Hartford outscored UMBC, 5-2, in the third quarter. The Hawks took their first lead of the game at 9-8 late in the quarter, before Jones knotted the game at 9-9 after 45 minutes.
The Retrievers avenged a 15-14 overtime loss at Hartford on March 30.