UMBC opens play in the America East this Saturday with a visit to Hartford. The Hawks began the season with three consecutive losses, won three straight and then dropped a 13-11 decision to Massachusetts last Saturday.
Despite Hartford’s uneven campaign thus far, the Retrievers (3-5) are fully aware of how much improvement the Hawks have made since February.
“I see a vastly improved team from the beginning of the year to where they are now,” coach Don Zimmerman said. “If you look at their first three games, I think their offense averaged a little under six goals per game. In their last four games, their offense is averaging just under 12 goals per game. So they’ve doubled their output as far as goals per game are concerned. They’re playing some young guys, and I’m sure they’ve had to work their way into the system. But we feel Hartford is peaking going into the conference. It’s always tough to play up there. We’re going to have to be ready.”
The early favorite to win the America East regular-season title and the top seed in the conference tournament is No. 20 Albany, which is 5-3 and has beaten No. 11 Syracuse, Massachusetts and Harvard.
The Great Danes boast an impressive offense headlined by a starting attack of juniors Miles and Ty Thompson and sophomore Lyle Thompson, but Zimmerman said he can’t afford to concern himself with Albany’s success.
“We have too much to be concerned about before we get to Albany,” he said of UMBC’s April 19 contest against the Great Danes. “Our focus is on Hartford. And I’ve been around this conference long enough to know that any team on any given day can beat any other team, and we’d be foolish to look at anyone else but Hartford.”Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times