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2009 Men's Soccer Outlook
In his tenure at UMBC, head soccer coach Pete Caringi has proven to be a pretty good forecaster of his team’s fortunes. He approached last season with some trepidation, hoping that his multitude of seniors would carry the Retrievers to a conference title, while admitting that some preseason injuries and a torturous league slate could derail those hopes.
The margins were razor-thin, but the veteran mentor’s fears were realized as the Retrievers failed to qualify for the America East Tournament. UMBC still maintained its own postseason destiny in the penultimate game, leading host
With only one senior on the 2009 roster, Caringi expects his squad to be lightly regarded this season. But a renewed commitment from the returning players last spring and his enthusiasm about this season’s recruiting class has the the coach feeling very optimistic this time around.
It doesn’t hurt that Caringi’s teams have never recorded back-to-back losing seasons in 28 years.
“We will learn from last year, but forget last year at the same time,” Caringi said. “I am really excited because it is like starting fresh. there are a lot of new players coming in, and I thought that in the spring the players were truly excited about playing. We went back to being a hard-working team and had some good results.”
Several players took the reigns of the group in the spring, including juniors Levi Houapeu, Sean Rothe and Chris Williams and sophomore Andrew Bulls.
Houapeu and Bulls, who can play up front or at midfield, are expected to spearhead a more consistent UMBC attack in 2009. Houapeu earned All-Rookie team honors in 2007 but came to 2008 preseason training nicked up and only produced three points in 17 games. But he had a solid spring and followed up by earning a spot on the All-Tournament Team of the United Soccer League’s Super-20 Finals with four goals.
Bulls produced a brilliant initial season, leading the team with 18 points and finishing fourth in America East with 0.47 goals per game. He was a four-time league Rookie of the Week and scored the most goals by a UMBC freshman since 2001.
“I am more optimistic than I have been in our offense,” Caringi said. “You can’t have success unless you have bonafide goal scorers. Good teams have great goalkeeping, a center back who leads the team and a goal scorer that scores in big situations. I think Andrew or perhaps Levi can do the job.”
Senior Andrew Gillis, who missed most of the 2008 season with a broken foot, reinjured it in the spring, and his health status remains uncertain entering the preseason. British freshman Matt Knight has the reputation of a player that can score goals, and his emergence may move Houapeu to an attacking midfield position.
Another freshman, Canadian Milovan Kapor, is an offensive-minded player who could see time up front, as well. Sophomore transfer Andy Streilein, who was the
At midfield, Rothe and junior John Paul Waraksa patrolled the middle of the field last spring and proved to be a solid tandem. Rothe started all 17 games in the fall, mostly on the right flank, and has the versatility to play the right fullback position. Waraksa finished second on the team with eight points last season, scoring on all three of his shots on goal. He has the size and passing skills to control the center of the field for long stages of a game.
Caringi is very high on another pair of freshman midfielders who could help in the middle of the pitch. Dave Vaeth, a local product from
Junior Dustin Dzwonkowski added some surprising offense to the squad last season, scoring a pair of goals and adding two assists. The team’s Most Improved Player in ’08 also possesses good size at 6-foot-3 and will compete for a starting position again this season.
Coach Caringi was disappointed in the performance of the defense last fall but may have shored up some deficiencies with the development of players in the program and the recruiting of a duo of fullbacks from across the
Sophomore Vince Savarese played extensively in his first season and will battle for time playing wide in ’09. The coaching staff was thrilled with the improvement of Jason McCarron in the spring, and he is expected to challenge for a starting position. British standouts Joe Green and Liam Paddock bring outstanding skill and leadership to the position and are expected to play significant roles very early in their careers.
Freshman Makoto Sano adds depth to the fullback position.
Following the graduation of four-year starter Steve King, the Retrievers will have a new starting goalkeeper for the first time since 2005. Sophomore Miguel Calderón saw some game action in the spring, but will be challenged by athletic freshman Phil Saunders. Saunders was a field player at
The Retrievers will play a very competitive non-conference schedule, including home matches with Virginia Tech, Loyola and