BALTIMORE – UMBC sophomore attackman Scott Jones (Coquitlam, B.C.) scored three goals, added two assists and recorded the game-winning goal with 41 seconds remaining as the host Retrievers nipped Vermont, 9-8, in a critical America East Conference game.
The Retrievers won for the fourth straight time and improved to 6-5 overall and 3-1 in league play. UMBC clinched a spot in the four-team America East Tournament for the eighth time in eight conference campaigns.
Vermont dropped its third straight and fell to 6-8, 1-3.
Jones was UMBC’s America East Player of the Game, while Vermont junior attackman Geoff Worley tallied three goals and added a helper and was the Catamount’s Player of the Game.
Vermont tied the game at 8-all on a goal by sophomore attackman Thomas Galvin with 9:09 remaining and the Catamounts had two man-up opportunities down the stretch to take the lead. But Galvin committed a turnover on the second penalty and UMBC gained possession and called time out with 54 seconds remaining.
Retriever sophomore attackman Joe Lustgarten (Wading River, N.Y.) operated behind the cage and fed a cutting Jones, who buried his three-yard shot past Vermont netminder David Barton and inside the far left post.
Vermont had one last opportunity, but Garrett Virtue’s left-handed shot from 12 yards away missed wide right with two seconds remaining.
Senior midfielder Jamie Kimbles (Centreville, Md./Queen Anne’s) and junior attackman Rob Grimm (Black River, N.Y.) each added two goals and one assist for the hosts. Freshman midfielder Conor Finch (Westminster, Md./Boys’ Latin) scored his first two collegiate goals, both in the first quarter.
Galvin recorded two goals and an assist for the Catamounts, while Vermont’s leading scorer, sophomore attackman Drew Philie, added a goal and two helpers.
Vermont took a 4-3 lead after 15 minutes, but UMBC outscored the visitors, 4-1, in the second stanza. Jones fed Grimm on a fast break for the game-tying goal with 8:49 remaining in the period, and Grimm returned the favor to Jones just 35 seconds later.
Worley scored a man-up goal with 5:00 left in the period to tie the score, but Kimbles equalized that with an extra-man goal with 1:21 to play. After a Retriever time-out and restart, Grimm went right to the cage and made it 7-5 21 seconds later.
UMBC took that lead into halftime and went ahead, 8-5 on Jones goal with 7:25 to play in the third period. But UMBC would go scoreless for the next 21:49, while the Catamounts eventually tied the score.
Retriever sophomore Joseph Impallaria (Lutherville, Md./Calvert Hall) came off the bench and won 12 of 17 draws as UMBC outdrew Vermont, 13-8.
The Catamounts outshot UMBC, 38-25, and UMBC junior netminder Brian McCullough (Garden City, N.Y.) made 11 saves. Barton had eight stops for Vermont.
Jones reached the 20-goal plateau and now leads the team with 28 points.
UMBC is 4-0 in games decided by three goals or less this season and 23-11 in those situations since 2007. They have won their last six games decided by a single goal, dating back to a 6-5 loss to Princeton in 2009. The Retrievers have never lost to Vermont (8-0), but three of the last four games have been decided by one or two goals.
The Retrievers conclude the regular season at Hartford on April 30.