BALTIMORE – UMBC junior attackman Scott Jones (Port CoquiItlam, B.C.) capped a miraculous rally with a goal at the 1:43 mark of overtime and the Retrievers edged Albany, 17-16, at UMBC Stadium.
With the victory, UMBC (5-6, 3-1 America East) clinched a spot in the America East four-team playoffs for the ninth time in nine conference seasons. Albany, also assured of a berth in the championships, fell to 3-9, 3-1.
The Retrievers trailed the Great Danes, 16-11, in the wild affair with under six minutes remaining in regulation. But UMBC reeled off five goals in a span of 2:18 and tied the score on a goal by junior midfielder Dave Brown (Coopersburg, Pa.) with 2:57 remaining, setting the stage for Jones’ heroics.
“I saw this team grow up,” head coach Don Zimmerman said. “That’s a very good team that we just played out there. We have been waiting and waiting and waiting for it to kick in and I thought we kicked into gear and came of age.”
Jones, UMBC’s America East Player of the Game, and sophomore attackman Matt Gregoire (Crofton, Md./South River) scored four goals each to lead UMBC. Three Great Danes- senior attackman Joe Resetarits, and sophomore attackmen Miles and Ty Thompson- scored four goals each, with Resetarits leading all scores with seven total points.
Sophomore face-off specialist Phil Poe (Harwood, Md./DeMatha) tied a school record by winning 22 face-offs. Poe attempted all 37 draws on the day and won 9-of-11 in the fourth quarter.
Miles Thompson finished a fast break on a pass from Ty Thompson with 6:07 remaining in the fourth quarter to give the visitors a five-goal bulge. UMBC responded with on a goal by junior midfielder Scott Hopmann (Annapolis, Md./St. Mary’s) with 5:15 to play and the Retrievers got an extra surge when Poe controlled the draw and scored eight seconds later to trim the deficit to 16-13.
After a holding call on Albany, Hopmann scored again, just 34 seconds after the 13th goal, and after Gregoire turned the corner and scored with 3:29 remaining, the Retrievers were within a goal. Poe beat UA long-stick Doug Eich on the draw and Brown fired a high blazer past Dane netminder Max Huber with 2:57 remaining to tie the score for the first time since it was even at 6-all.
Both teams had one offensive possession in the final moments of regulation, but could not score. Albany won the opening draw in overtime, but a Lyle Thompson shot sailed over the goal and possession went over to the Retrievers. Playing on Senior Day, senior midfielder Rob Grimm (Black River, N.Y.) fed Jones on the left wing ,and the Retrievers leading scorer dipped inside his defender and bounced a shot past Huber, setting off a wild celebration by the Retrievers.
The 17 goals scored by UMBC was its most since a 17-10 win over Rutgers in 2009. The 33 goals combined by the two squads was the most in a Retriever contest since an 18-15 loss at Towson early in the 1998 campaign.
Grimm, junior attackman Joe Lustgarten (Wading River, N.Y.) and freshman midfielder Derek Bertolini (Madison, Conn.) each had three assists for UMBC. Grimm and Bertolini added a goal piece to finish with four-point efforts. Hopmann and sophomore midfielder Zach Linkous (Jarrettsville, Md./St.Paul’s) scored two goals each for the hosts.
UMBC led only once before scoring the game-winning goal, scoring three consecutive first quarter goals after Albany had taken a quick 2-0 advantage. Albany led, 5-3, after one quarter, and 6-3 early in the second stanza before the Retrievers evened the affair on Grimm’s lone tally of the day on a man-up situation with 9:23 to play in the half.
But the Danes ended the first half of 3-0 run, punctuated by a Resetarits score from in front of the cage with six seconds to play in the half to give the guests a 9-6 halftime edge.
The Retrievers outscored UA, 4-3, in the third quarter and got as close as 12-10 before the Danes stretched out the margin to five goals.
Both teams had 37 shots in the game. Huber made nine saves for Albany, while UMBC junior netminder Adam Cohen (Arnold, Md./Severn) had a season-low six saves for his side. But Cohen made three key fourth quarter saves to allow the Retrievers to complete the rally.
UMBC hit on 3-of-4 man-up chances, while UA was 1-for-1.
The Retrievers, who fell to Stony Brook last Saturday, have never lost back-to-back games in 46 America East regular season games. UMBC is 16-6 in Zimmerman’s tenure in overtime games.
Jones has scored 17 goals in his last five outings and became the first Retrievers since Alex Hopmann (36) in 2009 to reach the 30-goal plateau with 31 scores.
The four goals were a career-high for Gregoire, who has 11 goals in his five starts in 2012.
UMBC completes the regular season at Binghamton on April 28.