BALTIMORE – UMBC senior midfielder Michael DiCesare (Westerville, Ohio) scored three goals as the Retrievers thrashed Vermont, 5-1, and captured at least a share of their second consecutive America East Conference regular season title.
The Retrievers improved to 5-0-1 in league play and 9-5-3 overall, while Vermont slipped to 2-3-1, 7-7-1. After wrapping up the regular season at Stony Brook on Nov. 5 UMBC will host an America East Tournament semi-final contest on Wednesday, Nov. 12.
"We talked all week, how, on Senior Night, that the best way to honor the seniors was to play our best soccer of the year," said Head Coach Pete Caringi. "And it was our best performance of the year."
UMass Lowell is 4-1-1 in the conference and could draw even with the Retrievers in the standings after Wednesdays' final matches. But UML is ineligible for postseason play because they are competing in just their second season of NCAA Division I competition. UMBC defeated UML, 2-1, on Oct. 4.
DiCesare, a reserve midfielder, scored UMBC's second, third and fourth goals in the 30th, 33rd, and 71st minutes. It was his first three goals of the season. Junior Michael Scott (Fife, Scotland) got UMBC on the board in the 17th minute and UMBC built a 5-0 lead after sophomore Michael Burgos (Huntington, Md.) scored in the 74th minute.
The Retrievers scored a season-high in goals and tallied the most goals since a 7-1 victory over Hartford in 2012. DiCesare's three-goal game was UMBC's first since Pete Caringi III netted four goals in that same contest versus Hartford.
UMBC is now unbeaten in its last 18 America East regular season contests (15-0-3) and is unbeaten versus its last 22 league foes (include playoffs). At Retriever Soccer Park, UMBC is unbeaten in its last 14 (12-0-2) contests when playing America East foes and avenged their last defeat, a 2-1 setback to Vermont in 2012.
The Retrievers moved the ball beautifully all night in chilly, windy conditions at Retriever Soccer Park. Scott's goal came on a nice build-up, as senior midfielder Mamadou Kansaye (Baltimore, Md./McDonogh) fed junior Malcolm Harris (Damascus, Md./McDonogh), who found Scott at the left edge of the box. Scott cut inside to 15 yards out and blasted a shot past Vermont netminder Connor Leland and just under the crossbar.
DiCesare scored his first goal of the night 2:07 after entering the game. Burgos moved the ball up from the left midfield area to Scott, who showed a deft touch, sending DiCesare in deep into the box. Playing before his parents on Senior Night, the midfielder poked it past a sliding Leland and inside the near post from close range.
Just 3:04 later, DiCesare made a great run on the right side, as senior forward Kay Banjo's (Upper Marlboro, Md./Largo) was on target and DiCesare notched his second score from six yards out.
The Retrievers led, 3-0 at the half, and DiCesare completed his "natural hat trick" banging in a rebound of a Marquez Fernandez (Baltimore, Md./McDonogh) from close range deep on the left side of the box.
Burgos capped the scoring for the hosts, scoring from 12 yards out on the right side, placing his effort just inside the far left post. Red-shirt freshman Gregg Hauck (Linthcum, Md./North County) and Harris strung passes together to set up Burgos for his first goal of the season.
Vermont's Mike Clayton averted the shutout for the visitors, heading in Chris Brasile's free kick with 3:47 remaining.
UMBC outshot Vermont, 17-6, and red-shirt sophomore goalkeeper Billy Heavner (Landisville, Pa,./Hempfield) moved to 6-1-1 on the year with a three-save effort. Leland played the first 74 minutes for the Catamounts and stopped five UMBC efforts.
Notes: UMBC honored a record ten seniors prior to tonight's contest… The seniors are Oumar Ballo, Kay Banjo, Jordan Becker, Geaton Caltabiano, Michael DiCesare, Marquez Fernandez, Stephen Ho, Mamadou Kansaye, Corbin McCarron and Spencer Williams… In addition to DiCesare's six points, Scott (1g, 1a), Harris (2a) and Burgos (1g, 1a) each scored multiple points… DiCesare's first and only other career goal was the game-winner versus Stony Brook in 2013, which gave UMBC the regular season title in a 1-0 victory.