Baltimore, Md.—Head coach Pete Caringi, Jr. enters his 28th season at the helm of the Retriever soccer program, looking to build upon a 7-6-5, 2-4-1 AE season a year ago. UMBC returned to the America East Tournament after missing the tournament for the first time since this decade in 2016. The team opens the 2018 campaign against Temple on Friday, Aug. 24 with as a group that features a wealth of experience, and a burning hunger to forge ahead to the top of the conference.
"We are excited for the start of a new year. We had a mixed spring, but ended on a high note. We have a good class coming in, mixed with returners who saw significant action last year to help take us to where we want to go," Caringi stated.
The Retrievers will look to regain their footing at the top of the league, as Caringi's crew captured four out of five titles from 2010-14. Last year, a pair of America East schools made it deep into the NCAA Tournament, with conference champion Albany making it to the second round and New Hampshire bowing out in the third round. Caringi knows it will be tough task, but one the Dawgs are ready for.
"We have one of the top three conferences in the nation and it seems to get harder and harder to win each year. Our goal each year is to not only make the conference tournament, but win a title and have a chance in the NCAA Tournament," Caringi stated. "We drew on the road against a very good Albany squad in the tournament last year, which gave our young guys a lot of confidence going into this season. The travel and the competition make it tough to win in the league, but this year the league is wide open, and we hope to be playing our best in October."
Once again, the Retrievers will have a daunting non-conference slate, starting off the year against four top tier programs. But the Retriever mentor expects the team to use those games to prepare for what is in-store once conference play rolls around.
"Our schedule is tough from game one until the end of the regular season. We have no easy games, but every contest will test us and make us better for the conference run," Caringi said. "Having teams like Temple, Rutgers, Villanova and Western Michigan help us see a multitude of different styles of play and get us prepared for the conference."
Look Back at 2017
The Retrievers made a return trip to the America East Tournament after missing the tournament in 2016. UMBC broke the attendance record at Retriever Soccer Park not once, but twice, finishing 14th in the country in attendance, averaging 1,616 fans per game.
UMBC saw a then-record 2,873 people come out to watch UMBC defeat Howard, 3-0, on August 28 before the record was shattered just weeks later when then No. 1 Maryland came to town. The Retrievers battled Maryland to a 1-1 draw in front of a sold-out crowd of 3,766 fans.
For the seventh time in eight years, the Retrievers earned a spot in the national rankings, reaching No. 16 in the Soccer America Top 25 Poll in October.
The Retrievers had one of the tougher schedules in the country, facing four nationally-ranked programs in a span of two weeks. UMBC went 2-1-1 during that stretch, defeating No. 12 New Hampshire and No. 19 West Virginia, with a draw against No. 1 Maryland and falling to No. 8 Western Michigan.
UMBC will welcome nine newcomers to Baltimore for the 2018 season, including five true freshman in Yassine Elkahloun, Jake Mazzei, Jordan Ehart, Jackson Becher and Quantrell Jones and four transfers; Ben Dao, Juan Maraboli, Eddie Huebner and Cesare Marconi. Caringi says that all the newcomers can come in right away and make an impact while providing the Retrievers with depth at all positions.
"We have guys who have competed and succeeded at the highest levels coming in. Several have won national championships at the club level, while also having stellar high school, club and in some cases, college careers thus far," he said of the newcomers.
The Retrievers will have to replace a quartet of players that provided the Retrievers with leadership last year in Gregg Hauck, Tom Paul, Cormac Noel and Sammy Kahsai. But Caringi says there are plenty of players on this years' team ready to step up and lead.
"Losing guys like Gregg, Tom, Cormac and Sammy is tough but we have a lot of guys coming back who are more than capable of filling the roles those guys leave behind," Caringi stated.
One of those who Caringi is looking toward is senior Patrick Jean-Gilles (Woodbridge, Va.) in the midfield. "Patrick is ready to take that next step and become a leader of this team. With him entering his senior season, he is ready to help this team by controlling the midfield," Caringi said.
Caringi will also lean on seniors Kyle Saunderson (Laurel, Md./Reservoir) and James Gielen (Edgewater, Md./DeMatha) as well as junior Jon Bell (Silver Spring, Md./Richard Montgomery) and red-shirt sophomore Marshal MacCartney (Chesapeake, Va.) who will all look to lead the team in a multitude of ways.
UMBC will have a plethora of depth up top, led by returners Tre Pulliam (Baltimore, Md./Archbishop Curley) and James Gielen. Both scored two goals last season, and Caringi knows Pulliam is primed for a breakout year.
"Tre has had a good summer and his expectations for himself are high. He had a good high school and club career and is ready to take the next step this season," Caringi said of his junior striker.
However, Caringi is still looking for that go-to guy but says there are several guys on the team who can step into that role, including Pulliam and Gielen.
"James has a lot of confidence after a solid season last year. His game has progressed each year, and he can become a leader for us now in his senior season," Caringi said.
Other guys looking to step up the scoring production for the Retrievers this year are newcomers Jackson Becher (Hummelstown, Pa.) and Cesare Marconi (Loano, Italy), as well as returners junior Jordan Dove (Gambrills, Md./DeMatha), sophomore Sam Solomon (Fort Meade, Md./Meade) and junior Nick Gumbs (Clarksburg, Md./Damascus).
Replacing standouts like Sammy Kahsai and Gregg Hauck in the midfield will be tough task, but the Retrievers have a slew of returners and newcomers who will look to step up in 2018. One of those players is senior Patrick Jean-Gilles, who has been a three-year starter for UMBC. Caringi is looking toward returners junior Tre McCalla (Toronto, Ontario), sophomore Colin Weyant (Perry Hall, Md./Perry Hall), sophomore Matt Bailey (Stevensville, Md./Saints Peter and Paul), redshirt sophomore Marshal MacCartney and sophomore Alejandro Arbelaez (Baltimore, Md./Archbishop Curley) to step into bigger roles.
"We have a lot of depth and talent in the midfield. Having a bunch of different guys who have different skill sets and styles will help us be able to play a variety of formations and styles throughout the year," Caringi said.
The back line of the Retrievers will have a familiar look with Kyle Saunderson, junior Trey Vinson (Manassas, Va.) and Jon Bell returning for a defense that surrendered just 24 goals in 2017 and Caringi knows having them back will be an enormous advantage.
"Continuity is important for a back line, and we may have one of the best in the league. We have to replace Tom Paul, who was our vocal leader last year, but having guys like Kyle, Trey and Jon back there is a huge help," Caringi said.
Senior David Harris (Waimanalo, Hawaii) saw significant minutes in the back last year and will compete for the starting job on the outside opposite Bell.
"We could have a great back line once they start to mesh together. We have a lot of talent back there, it just needs to come together," said Caringi.
Coach Caringi will have a plethora of options in between the pipes with sophomore Ciaran O'Loughlin (Birkenhead, England) returning after a successful initial campaign that saw him earn All-Rookie team honors.
Freshman Quantrell Jones (Baltimore, Md./Kenwood) will come in and look to compete for the starting spot after a highly-decorated high school and club career. He has seen time with the U.S. U17 National Team and brings a wealth of domestic and international experience to the team.
"Both Ciaran and Quantrell bring a wealth of experience to the team in their own ways. Ciaran had a good freshman season, while Quantrell comes in as one of the most decorated recruits we've ever had and may be the best freshman keeper in the country," Caringi said. "There will be a good battle between the two and each will push the other to play at a high level."
Also competing for playing time will be transfers Eddie Huebner (Montgomery Village, Md./Watkins Mill/West Virginia Wesleyan) and Juan Maraboli (Silver Spring, Md./Albert Einstein/Montgomery College).
"We are excited to see what this season will bring. The guys have been working hard and are ready to compete," Caringi said. "Our goal remains to win the conference and get to the NCAA Tournament. We are ready to see the hard work the guys are putting in pay off."