Lowell, Mass. – Seventh-ranked UMBC struck for two first half goals, and senior goalkeeper Phil Saunders (Perry Hall, Md./Perry Hall) recorded an outstanding four-save effort as the visiting Retrievers blanked UMass Lowell, 2-0, at Cushing Field.
UMBC, which leads the nation in winning percentage, extended their unbeaten streak to six and improved to 13-1-2 overall and 4-0-2 in America East play. The Riverhawks, who were coming off a win and a tie in their last two America East outings, slipped to 3-13-1, 1-4-1, in their first Division I campaign.
The Retrievers would clinch the America East regular season title with a victory over Stony Brook at Retriever Soccer Park on Wednesday evening. UMBC has already secured a first-round bye and will host an America East Tournament semifinal contest on Nov. 13.
UMBC sophomore forward Michael Scott (Fife ,Scotland) and junior back Marquez Fernandez (Baltimore, Md./McDonogh) scored goals for the visitors. Scott was making his first career start in place of the America East's leading scorer, senior forward Pete Caringi III(Perry Hall,Md./Calvert Hall). The Retrievers' second leading goal-scorer, senior midfielderKadeem Dacres (Rosedale, N.Y.) did not compete due to an accumulation of five yellow cards.
Scott nearly got on the board in the 11th minute, but his header went just over the crossbar. But in the 23rd minute, he got on the end of junior left back Jordan Becker's (Pocomoke, Md./Pocomoke) serve, and headed in his first goal of the season from close range on the far post.
The Retrievers doubled the advantage in the 35th minute, as the Riverhawks committed a foul 25 yards from the goal outside the right edge of the box. Junior midfielder Mamadou Kansaye (Baltimore, Md./McDonogh) swung in the free kick, and Fernandez broke free and headed the ball back inside the right post from nine yards out.
The score was Fernandez' third of the campaign and the Retrievers went to the break with a two-goal advantage for the first time in 2013.
The game opened up dramatically in the final 30 minutes and UMBC had two opportunities to make the score 3-0 prior to the half's midpoint. Junior midfielders Stephen Ho (North Potomac, Md./Wootton) and Geaton Caltabiano (Lothian, Md./Mount St. Joseph) had back-to-back chances a minute apart, but could not convert. Ho's one-on-one effort from deep in the box beat UML netminder Chris Maierle, but a Riverhawk defender cleared the ball off the line.
The hosts pushed back desperately, but were denied on three excellent chances by Saunders. The Retriever senior made a diving stop off a header with 24 minutes to play and stopped a header in close quarters with 7:45 remaining. Finally, with less than four minutes remaining, Saunders kicked out a shot by Eric Martin, who had gotten behind the Retriever defense and broke in alone.
Saunders finished with five saves and surpassed the 200-save plateau (203) in his career. The shutout was his third in a row, fifth of the season and 22nd of his career.
UMBC outshot UML, 15-9, and Maierle had four saves for the hosts in the first meeting between the two schools.
Notes: Saunders is now tied for second place in school history with 22 shutouts… Brian Rowland is the school's all-time leader with 25 and Saunders is tied with Steve King (2005-08) and Steve Zerhusen (1975-78)… The 13 victories for UMBC is the most since recording 14 in 2009… UMBC , the 2010 and 2012 America East Tournament champions, have not won the regular season crown since 2003… UMBC has not allowed a goal in its last 322 minutes of action.