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The UMBC Retrievers wrapped up a successful 2013 fall campaign by taking on the Midshipmen of the United States Naval Academy at Retriever Stadium in Catonsville, Maryland. And despite the 11-8 loss to the visiting Midshipmen, the Retrievers are starting to see their 2014 squad take shape.

For three quarters. the Retrievers hung tough with the Midshipmen before surrendering a few late goals to close out the fall season on a close loss. However, fall ball isn’t about W’s and L’s, yeah, it’s about throwing these kids in the pond to see who will sink and who will swim.

The biggest question looming on the campus of UMBC, is who will replace Scott Jones’s scoring on attack.  Jones, who finished his UMBC career with 61 goals and 14 assist, has graduated and now plays for the Minnesota Swarm in the NLL. A pure finisher, bred with Canadian box skills, Jones was the guy to jam the ball inside to when the Retrievers needed a clutch goal.

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Senior Matt Gregoire (South River) appears to be the heir apparent to lead the offense in 2014.  Gregoire netted 15 goals for the Retrievers in ’13 and had a strong fall. Junior Ty Kashur and Freshman Max Maxwell could see significant minutes alongside Gregoire on the attack for the Retrievers.

With the loss of Jones, UMBC may have to look to its midfield to generate offense while its newcomers on attack mature. Pat Young returns for his sophomore season, after netting 32 goals his freshman year. Jack Gannon and Nate Lewnes (St. Mary’s) may have the inside track on supplementing Young on the first line after strong showings in the fall.

Changes off the field have taken place for UMBC as well, who is looking to make it back to the NCAA tourney for the first time since 2009. UMBC alum, Steve Settembrino,  takes over the UMBC defense this year and will look to improve upon a Retrievers squad that gave up 12.5 goals per game in 2013. Sophomore Zach Esser (Fallston) has returned bigger and stronger and will most likely mark the opposition’s top gun.

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Settembrino inherits an open goalie competition as well, heading into ’14. Last seasons starting net-minder, Wes DiRito sustained a season ending foot injury that required surgery. Now, three players, Connor Gordon, James Maxwell (Onondaga), and freshman Ruston Souder (Chesapeake-AA) will compete for the starting goalkeeper spot.

Senior Phil Poe (DeMatha) returns at the face-off X for UMBC, after leading the AEC in face-off percentage (58.8%) in 2013. Poe will become UMBC’s career leader in face-off wins in 2014, needing only 3 wins to top Ray Ignacio (’84-’87) on the Retreivesr all time wins list.

Former UMBC All-American, Andy Gallagher, takes over as associate head coach under Don Zimmerman. Zimmerman, who  is entering his 21st season as Retrievers head coach, and 28th season overall, has compiled over 200 career wins.

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UMBC should be able to generate shots with its current crop of short sticks, however their defense will need to gel quickly in front of a new net-minder if the Retrievers are to slow down the likes of Albany and Stony Brook and capture the America East crown.

Photos from the Navy Fall game, courtesy of us.

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