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MEN'S SOCCER: THE YEAR IN REVIEW
The 2003 men’s soccer season will go down as another successful chapter is what has become a yearly “best-seller” for Retriever sports fans.
UMBC recorded its sixth consecutive winning season (
But nothing seemed to deter the 2003 team. They opened the year by winning back the adidas Kick-Off Classic and then exorcised the demons of the past three decades by earning the program’s first-ever win over Loyola, a 2-1 victory to take their first-ever Battle of Baltimore Soccer title. They defeated a 2002 NCAA qualifier in George Washington, and acquitted themselves very well in a 2-0 loss at #3-ranked Old Dominion.
Picked sixth in the pre-season polls, UMBC shook off the frustration of some early league draws, and recorded impressive road wins at
The ending to the uplifting campaign was quite sad, as a stunned and tearful UMBC team left the field after a 1-0 loss to defending league champion Northeastern in the league semi-finals. Although the loss to the Huskies will still sting for some time, the accomplishments of the 2003 team cannot be denied. UMBC was regionally ranked in the toughest region in the country for the entire season ,received votes for the nation’s Top 25 in two polls and finished 30th in the nation in winning percentage. The Retrievers continued their recent trend as one of the nation’s top defensive teams, finishing in the top 35 in the country in goals against average and shutout percentage.
“I am very proud of the team and the season we had,” said Head Coach Pete Caringi. “It was quite an accomplishment to win the regular season title. Obviously, we were very disappointed in the semi-final loss, but I hope that will drive us toward playing at an even higher level next year.”
As a first-year program in the AEC, it was shocking that UMBC dominated the All Conference First Team, but all of the four players honored were deserving of the accolades. Junior forward Derek McElligott climbed UMBC’s all-time scoring chart into third place, as he finished 7th in the nation with 15 goals. He was joined on the First Team by senior midfielder Mike Joseph, junior midfielder Danny Mongello, and sophomore fullback Marcus Gross. In his senior season, Joseph finished 15th in the nation with 10 assists, while Mongello had six helpers and was a constant threat from his wing position. Gross dominated the defensive side of the field, and scored key goals in back-to-back wins for the Retrievers. Freshman midfielder Kevin Mezzadra made the league’s All-Rookie team, as he displayed his exciting ball control and potential big-time scoring ability.
As outstanding as those aforementioned players were, UMBC thrives off of the talents of its role players. Goalkeeper Andy Marchica (8 shutouts), defenders Mike Pennachia and Matt McGowan and forward George Bakoulas (4 goals) were key factors in UMBC’s 2003 success. Moreover, UMBC’s seniors all contributed in their final season, led by starters Steve Blakely and Marco Angelini , but amply supported by Marcus Weekes, Oscar Villalobos, and Andres Parra. The leadership of captains Justin Nall and Mike Joseph will sorely be missed.
Perhaps Northeastern Head Coach Ed Matz said it best about UMBC soccer in the aftermath of his team’s victory over the Retrievers. “This (UMBC) team will be one of the teams to beat in this conference for many years.”