BALTIMORE- For the second time in three years, the UMBC men's soccer team has won the America East title and will represent the conference in the NCAA Men's Soccer College Cup. The second-seeded Retrievers and fifth-seeded New Hampshire Wildcats played to a 0-0 double overtime draw, but UMBC advanced to the championships by prevailing, 4-2, in penalty kicks.
UMBC junior goalkeeper Phil Saunders (Perry Hall, Md./Perry Hall) was named the championship's Most Outstanding Player. Saunders made five saves, including a point-blank stop in the second overtime period, and stopped a pair of UNH attempts in the penalty kick shootout. He also blanked Stony Brook, 1-0, in the semifinals.
The Retrievers will compete in their third Division I NCAA Championship, with previous appearances in 1999 and 2010. The team will learn its first-round opponent on Monday afternoon when the brackets are announced.
"The last two days, we told them we would find a way to win knowing they (UNH) was a great defensive team and if it comes down to penalty kicks, whatever it takes, we are going to do it, and that's exactly what we did," head coach Pete Caringi, Jr. said.
The partisan UMBC crowd was shocked early on as the America East Striker of the Year, junior forward Pete Caringi III (Perry Hall, Md./Calvert Hall) went down and had to be helped off the field in the fourth minute of play. Caringi, who led America East with 14 goals on the season, did not return to the lineup.
However, the Retrievers did control much of the play in the first 45 minutes. The best scoring chance came in the 13th minute, when junior forward Kadeem Dacres (Rosedale, N.Y./Mercer County CC) tested UNH sophomore netminder Travis Worra with a 19-yard shot toward the far post, but Worra made a diving save to keep the game scoreless.
Saunders, who was not tested in the first half, made a pair of saves on UNH midfielder Robert Palumbo in the 50th minute, stopping an initial drive from 16 yards out and then rejected a rebound opportunity from seven yards away.
UMBC countered with good chances in the 68th and 70th minutes, but freshman midfielder Michael Burgos (Huntingtown, Md./The Calverton School) was wide with a header, and sophomore midfielder Stephen Ho (North Potomac, Md./Wootton) missed on the short side after a cross from Dacres.
The game headed to overtime, and although UMBC outshot UNH, 6-2, over that 20-minute span, the Wildcats had two outstanding opportunities. In the 95', reserve midfielder David Schlatter hit the underside of the crossbar as he found himself unguarded on the right side from 12 yards out.
With less than four minutes to play in the second extra period, Schlatter got inside of the Retriever defense and drilled a seven-yard shot, but Saunders aggressively challenged and turned the attempt away.
Just as it did in 2010, the game went to penalty kicks and the results were similar. UMBC senior Milo Kapor (Toronto, Ont./Emily Carr) converted, as did UNH senior back Jordan Thomas, and Retriever sophomore midfielder Mamadou Kansaye (Baltimore, Md./McDonogh) gave UMBC a 2-1 advantage. UNH freshman Lukas Goerigk tried to beat Saunders to the goalie's right, but the Retreiver netminder made the save on the hard shot along the turf.
UMBC senior fullback Liam Paddock (Worcesteshire, England/Chase Technology) and Palumbo matched scores, and the Retrievers led, 3-2, after three rounds. Dacres drilled his attempt into the upper left corner, but Saunders ended the proceedings by stopping Ryan McNabb's effort with a similar diving save to his right.
The Retrievers won the 2010 shootout, 5-4 and went on to defeat No. 10 Princeton, 2-1, in the first round, before falling in penalty kicks at William & Mary.
"Tonight in general says a lot about UMBC Soccer- the crowd, the atmosphere, the enthusiasm for our program.," Caringi said. "This is a culmination of a lot of work. This is a win for UMBC in general. I am really proud of the school and how everyone responded."
In addition to Saunders, Dacres, Paddock and senior midfielder Dave Vaeth (Dundalk, Md./Patapsco) earned All-Tournament Team honors.
UMBC outshot UNH, 21-10, overall and earned 11 corners to five for the Wildcats. Worra collected seven saves in the contest.