BALTIMORE – The UMBC women's soccer team capped off a Cinderella turnaround, going from last in the conference last season, to capturing a share of its first-ever regular season title. Sophomore back Nikki Boretti (Crofton, Md./Archbishop Spalding) and junior midfielder Lilly Rydon (Stirling, South Australia/Concordia College) scored 53 seconds apart to complete the 2-1 come-from-behind victory against New Hampshire in Sunday afternoon's regular season finale at Retriever Soccer Park. The Retrievers will make their first postseason appearance since 2005, as the No. 1-seed in the America East Championship.
The Retrievers conclude the regular season by matching their highest win total in program history, finishing with an 11-5-2 overall mark and a 6-2 record in the league play. UMBC becomes the first team in America East history to earn a regular season title after finishing last in the conference the season before. New Hampshire (4-8-6, 2-4-3 AE) misses out on postseason play with the loss.
After a scoreless first half, the Wildcats took a 1-0 advantage in the 49th minute as senior midfielder Kristi Zarrilli lofted a ball over the top and sophomore back Kirsten O'Neil punched in a shot under UMBC goalkeeper Lauren Kadet (Oakville, Ontario/St. Thomas Aquinas).
Moments later, Kadet kept it at a one-score game, picking up one of her six saves on a header from three yards out by O'Neil.
For the second straight game, the Retrievers waited until there was less than 10 minutes left in the game to ignite their comeback. Although UMBC was unable to take advantage of its first of two corner kicks within 20 seconds, junior back Melissa Hummel (Downingtown, Pa./Downingtown East) sent a long ball that Boretti was able to head in for her first-career goal.
A free kick less than a minute later setup the sequence for the game-winner, as Hummel sent in a cross that was knocked out by a Wildcat defender. Freshman forward Amanda Dailey (Howell, N.J./Freehold Township/Monmouth) headed the ball to red-shirt junior midfielder Jessy Brown (Plantation, Fla./American Heritage), who headed it towards the net for the Rydon tip-in in the 84th minute.
The Retrievers solidified the first seed in the tournament with Stony Brook's 2-1 double overtime victory against Maine. With Stony Brook and UMBC tied with 18 points apiece during conference play, each captured a share of the title, with UMBC taking the top spot in the tournament due to its head-to-head victory against the Seawolves on Oct. 17.
UMBC earned a bye during quarterfinal action and will host the winner of No. 4 Hartford and No. 5 Vermont on Sunday, Nov. 3 at 1 p.m. at Retriever Soccer Park.
-UMBC earns just its second victory against the Wildcats in 11 tries.
-The Retrievers will make their third appearance in America East Championship action, but will be looking for their first postseason victory since joining the league.
-After posting a 1-11-5 record last season, UMBC is in the top-three in the nation in winning percentage turnarounds, a difference of .461.