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Sunday, April 19, 2009

It's all my fault.

Logic clearly dictates that my overconfidence in my team has absolutely nothing to do with this Saturday's loss to the Hartford Hawks, but that doesn't mean I don't feel the slightest bit guilty. In my mind and probably in my words, I had UMBC penciled in as the America East champ, finishing the rest of the season undefeated and waiting to see if we earned a seed on Selection Sunday in a few weeks. Surely, after vanquishing the America East's other threat, Albany, last week, this was a done deal. Apparently no one told that to Hartford.

Yesterday's loss changes the landscape significantly. A win would have sewn up the #1 seed and home-field advantage for the Retrievers in the America East tourney. Had we won this game and next week's vs. Vermont, there's a good chance that even with a loss in the AE tourney, we could head to the NCAAs as an at-large. Running the table would have given a reasonable argument for a seed and a home game in the NCAA tournament. Now all wishes of a seed are distant memory and it will likely take an America East championship and the accompanying auto-qualifier to even make the tournament. The Retrievers also missed an important opportunity to jockey for position: Hofstra, who leapfrogged the Dawgs last week, lost to UNC, and their quality win, Princeton, also dropped one to conference foe Cornell. With a win, UMBC could have made a leap forward.

Hartford played like stars after having been abysmal for so long. I'm reminded of 2005 when Army football, coming off of a 0-for-season, snapped their losing streak by defeating Cincinnati and turned around the next week to ruin USF's homecoming. Similarly, Hartford got on the board last week with a win vs. Presbyterian and then took the Dawgs to the woodshed this past week, and while it didn't ruin a homecoming, there was certainly plenty at stake.

UMBC now has the opportunity to clench home field for the AE tourney on national television as they take on Vermont in ESPNU's lacrosse game of the week this Saturday. If they should prevail, the Dawgs will host the America East tournament the following week. While it looks like a seed's out of the question, I'd love to see UMBC clench an advantageous matchup for the tournament. Or, selfishly, a match at UNC or Duke.
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