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Play-In Game Preview: Marist hosts UMBC to open up NCAA Tournament

Marist hosts their second ever NCAA Tournament game, while the Retrievers look to continue their Cinderella run.

Marist Athletics/Stockon Photo

Welcome to the 2019 NCAA Men’s Division I Lacrosse Tournament!

After over three months of lacrosse spanning over 500 regular season games and 10 conference tournaments, the big tournament has finally arrived. And it begins Wednesday night as the Marist Red Foxes host the UMBC Retrievers at 7 PM on ESPN3. The winner face the top seeded Penn State Nittany Lions Sunday at noon on ESPNU. This will be Marist’s second postseason game that they host. The first came in 2015 when the Red Foxes defeated the NEC champion Bryant Bulldogs before losing to Syracuse.

Check out the rest of the bracket here.

How They Got Here

Marist: After going 3-12 a season ago, the Red Foxes started this season on a better note. It was a 4-5 mark with a 2-1 MAAC conference record, but they already got above the previous season’s win total. But that’s when Marist, benefitting from a pretty easy final five games of the regular season (save for Virginia), went on their current run by winning six of their final seven games, including one-goal games against Canisius and Quinnipiac to take home the MAAC title.

UMBC: If you look at their record from a year ago to now, the Retrievers went from 5-8 to 6-8. Not a big deal right?

Consider the fact that last year the Retrievers were without their starting attack of Ryan Frawley, Trevor Patschorke, and Mitch Howell for the majority of the season due to injuries and the offense struggled with a school-record low 6.85 goals per game. This year, UMBC led the America East at 11.79 goals per game.

But the Retrievers possessed the best defense in the country allowing just 7.77 goals per game, the best in the country. But the defense got the injury bug before the season started with America East Second Team defenseman Jason Brewster and AE First Team member Nick Griffin to season-ending injuries. The defense also had plenty of personnel move around, including Gunnar Schimoler, who started his career on offense as an attackman and midfielder, before moving to SSDM and eventually close defense.

The Retrievers thought their season was done after an overtime loss to UMass Lowell on April 20. They were 3-8 overall and 1-4 in conference play. Tears were shed in the locker room and head coach Ryan Moran pretty much thanked the seniors for their time. It felt like the season was over. But it wasn’t, thanks in part from an unlikely source. The then-winless Binghamton Bearcats won their last two games against Hartford and UMass Lowell, giving UMBC a win-and-in chance against Hartford in the final week of the regular season. The Retrievers took that game 11-9, followed by beating the top two seeds in the America East Tournament (Stony Brook and Vermont) to reach their first NCAA Tournament since 2009.

Players To Watch

Marist: Midfielder Joe Tierney was named Most Outstanding Player of the MAAC Tournament with seven goals in both games last week. He’s their number one threat up top. Jake Weinman is a guy to look out for at attack. James Sarrocco and Ralph Sommer are Marist’s two senior starting defenders. FOGO Peyton Smith is a top 10 faceoff taker winning 62.6% of his draws.

UMBC: Patschorke was named the America East’s Most Outstanding Player for their tournament this weekend. The sophomore, along with Frawley and junior Brett McIntyre, have helped the Retrievers get their offense finally going. Seniors Josh Jordan and Billy Nolan also bring some veteran leadership at midfield. Junior Colin Kasner leads UMBC on defense with 30 caused turnovers and was a 2nd Team All Conference choice this season.

Freshmen To Watch

Marist: The Red Foxes possess some quality young players on offense. Jojo Pirreca started all 16 games at attack this season and is second on the team with 25 goals and 33 points. Twin brothers Jamison and Hunter Embury are also contributors on offense with Jamison at attack and Hunter at midfield. On defense, LSM Tyler Ammirato and JT Roselle both have at least 10 caused turnovers.

UMBC: Midfielder Taylor Bohanan has seen his playing time increase as of late. He’s played in UMBC’s last eight games and scored six goals with two assists. Brandon Galloway and P.J. Argiros are two of UMBC’s top faceoff guys with Galloway winning 46.6% of his draws. SSDM Keith Dukes also plays a role with five caused turnovers and 16 ground balls on the season.

Keys To Victory

Marist: Limit UMBC’s chances on offense. Marist has a quality offense that can help them bail out their teammates on the opposite side of the field, but the Red Foxes have to do a better job defensively, especially if they want to pull off the incredible upset against their potential next opponent.

UMBC: Make it competitive at the faceoff X. There’s a stark difference between Smith and Galloway/Argiros that favors the former, but UMBC has won games before while losing the faceoff battle. If either FOGO can find a groove or a weakness against Smith, the extra possessions can help the Retriever offense.