Pete Caringi has taken UMBC Soccer to heights never reached before, and perhaps never expected.
The Retriever mentor has won at every level, both as a player and as a coach. In his early years at UMBC, he led the Retrievers to a pair of regular season league titles (1991, 1993), but building a true championship team eluded him. However, after carefully reconstructing his program over time, Coach Caringi achieved that measure of success in 1999.
Like a master chef, Caringi blended experienced local talent with a couple of international standouts, and finished by adding a few impact newcomers. The result was one of the finest products in UMBC history. The 1999 Retrievers won the Northeast Conference title, gave No. 1 Duke all it could handle in the NCAA Tournament, finished the year with the nation’s best winning percentage and earned national rankings in every major soccer poll.
Coach Caringi reaped the benefits of the team’s success. He was named Northeast Conference Coach of the Year and NSCAA South Atlantic Region Coach of the Year and he was a finalist for National Coach of the Year. Moreover, UMBC’s winningest men’s soccer coach became the first soccer coach in school history to surpass the 100-win plateau. He is currently ranked 34th among all active Division I coaches with a winning percentage of .622 and was rewarded with a four-year contract extension in 2003.
“I am excited that the administration has made a commitment to UMBC soccer so that we can continue to be recognized as a national-caliber program,” Caringi said.
That commitment also includes facilities, as the soccer program began play in its own grass complex, UMBC Soccer Stadium, in 1998. In the spring of 2004, UMBC Stadium was outfitted with Momentum 51 artificial turf to allow night games to be played on its soccer-friendly surface. Last spring, a new Bermuda grass field was installed at UMBC Soccer Stadium with irrigation and drainage systems. It is the only surface of its kind in the America East Conference and in the fall of 2008, the soccer team will also enjoy the benefits of the new locker room complex.
The unparalled success of the 1999 season catapulted the program into the 21st century. The 2000 season proved UMBC was not a “one-year wonder.” Despite a new-found bullseye on their uniforms, as hungry opponents attempted to knock the Retrievers from their lofty standing, UMBC (15-5, 7-3) spent five weeks nationally ranked and bested notables Maryland (2-0) and George Mason (5-2) both on the field and in the South Atlantic Region. In 2001, the Retrievers made the four-team NEC Tournament for the fourth consecutive season, falling to eventual “Elite Eight” team FDU, 1-0, in a hard-fought semifinal match. UMBC suffered heavy graduation losses after ‘00 and ‘01, losing seven All-NEC players and six professional draftees, but Coach Caringi and his staff adapted their style to a more defensive-oriented team in 2002, and the Retrievers responded by winning (tied with LIU) another regular season title.
In 2003, the Retrievers were picked sixth in the pre-season as they entered the new territory of the America East Conference. But an early tournament victory in the Battle of Baltimore buoyed UMBC, and the Retrievers lost only once (to fourth-ranked Old Dominion) in their first 16 games (10-1-5) and captured the league’s regular season title with a 5-1-3 record. In 2004, UMBC defeated N.C. State and George Washington en route to its seventh straight winning season. The Retrievers made it eight straight in 2005, falling just short of another regular season league title when eventual America East Champion Stony Brook nipped UMBC in overtime in the finale, and Coach Caringi was named the conference’s Coach of the Year.
Caringi, a Baltimore native was named UMBC’s fourth head coach after 10 sensational years at Essex Community College, where he compiled an overall record of 170-27-8. He coached the Knights to the National Junior College championship game in 1984 and 1989 and was named NJCAA National Coach of the Year and Region XX Coach of the Year in both seasons.
In 1994, he was inducted into the National Junior College Athletic Hall of Fame and in May of 1998, he was inducted into the Maryland Soccer Hall of Fame. Last spring, he was a member of the second class inducted into the University of Baltimore Athletic Hall of Fame.
Not only did Caringi have success at the junior college level, but he reached the top in the professional ranks as well. In 1990, he coached the Maryland Bays of the American Professional Soccer League to a 20-5 record and the league title. He served as assistant coach for the Bays in the 1988 and 1989 seasons. The offensive-minded mentor made an immediate impact at UMBC, winning a school-record-tying 15 games in two of his first three seasons.
Caringi was a two-time All-American at the University of Baltimore (1976, 1977) and is the school’s all-time leading goal-scorer with 70. Moreover, the Retriever mentor is 21st on the NCAA Division-II all-time goals list and is 39th in scoring with 159 points. He captained the 1975 NCAA Division-II national championship team and played for the Washington Diplomats of the North American Soccer League in 1978.
Caringi earned a B.A. degree from UB in 1978. He served a term on the Board of Directors of the National Soccer Coaches Association (NSCAA), the lone junior college representative on the board. He has also served on the NCAA South Atlantic Rating Board and the NCAA Men’s Soccer Selection Committee. He and his wife Susan have two children, Christina, 18, and Pete III, who will be 15 in September.
Coach Caringi holds a U.S.S.F. “A” license and is a staff coach with the O.D.P. under-23 squad.
Caringi Year-By-Year At UMBC
1991 15-5-1 (1)
1992 12-9-0 (2)
1999 19-1-2 (3)
2002 11-6-3 (4)
2003 10-3-5 (5)
TOTALS 172-105--30 (.609)
(1) East Coast Conf. Regular Season Champions
(2) Big South Conf. Regular Season Champions
(3) Northeast Conf. Champions; NCAA Tournament
Final Rankings: #11-Soccer America; #22-NSCAA
(4) Northeast Conf. Regular Season Champions
(5) America East Regular Season Champions
1975 Captain, NCAA Div. II National Champions, Univ. of Baltimore
1976 All America, Univ. of Baltimore
1977 All America, Univ. of Baltimore
1978 Forward, NASL, Washington Diplomats
1984 NJCAA National Coach of the Year,
1989 NJCAA National Coach of the Year,
1990 Head Coach, APSL Champion
1994 Inducted to National Junior College
Hall of Fame
1998 Inducted to Maryland Soccer
Hall of Fame
1999 NSCAA South Atlantic Region
Coach of the Year
Northeast Conference Coach of the Year
20022 Northeast Conference Coach of the Year
2005 America East Conference
Coach of the Year
Inducted into Univ. of Baltimore
Hall of Fame