Men's Soccer: Retrievers Open Season vs. Air Force Falcons on Friday at Naval Academy
Junior goalkeeper Steve King needs nine saves to enter UMBC's all-time top ten.
BaltimoreóThe UMBC menís soccer team opens its 2007 campaign on Friday, August 31 as they travel to Annapolis, Md. to face the Air Force Academy Falcons. Kick-off time is set for 4 p.m. for the opener, while the Retrieversí second contest, a Sunday, Sept. 2 date with the Temple Owls, gets underway at Navyís Glenn Warner Soccer Facility at noon.
Head Coach Pete Caringiís squad returns 15 lettermen and welcomes 12 newcomers to the mix as the Retrievers try to improve upon last seasonís 5-9-3 campaign. The sub-.500 season was UMBCís first since 1997.
UMBC and Air Force have never met on the soccer pitch. The Falcons were 5-12-1 a season ago and will be under the new coaching leadership of Doug Hill. Nine starters return for Air Force, including first team All-Mountain Pacific Soccer Federation midfielder Andy Nigro. The Retrievers defeated Temple, 4-0, in the lone meeting of the two schools in 2002. The Owls struggled to a 2-14-1 mark in 2006 and are coached by former Baltimore Blast standout David MacWilliams.
The Retrievers will have to find offense to replace 2006 seniors Kevin Mezzadra (nine goals) and David Feazell (six goals), who accounted for 15 of the teamís 26 goals. Junior Kevin Gnatiko (Montgomery Village, Md./Watkins Mill) is the teamís leading returning scorer as the speedy forward/midfielder scored four time and added three assists last season. A member of the 2006 America East Conference All-Rookie team, sophomore forward Andrew Gillis (Baltimore, Md./Perry Hall) is expected to build on his three-goal total last season, while a trio of newcomers, junior midfielder Shondell Busby (Toronto, Ont./Francis Marion) and freshmen midfielder Levi Houapeu (Germantown, Md./Watkins Mill) and forward B.J. Quigley (Baltimore, Md./Archbishop Curley) are all talented offensive players and could see substantial playing time from the outset of the season.
UMBC is more experienced on defense as co-captains Bryan Moffa (Baltimore, Md./Eastern Tech) and L.J. Pijnenburg (Forest Lake, New Zealand) and senior Philippe Bissohong (Silver Spring, Md./Springbrook) perform in front of junior netminder Steve King (Baltimore, Md./Archbishop Curley). King played all 1,600 minutes in the net for UMBC last season and needs nine saves to move into the schoolís all-time top ten.
After the opening weekend, UMBC will host the 11th annual Kick Off Classic on Friday and Sunday, Sept. 7 and 9. The Retrievers face St. Francis (N.Y.) in the opener (4:30 p.m.) , then entertain Iona (2:30 p.m. to close out the weekend.