Over the past half-century, the Baltimore metropolitan region has produced some of this nation’s top players and coaches at the amateur and professional levels. By virtue of UMBC’s historic run to the College Cup in the fall of 2014, Pete Caringi, Jr. has surely cemented himself atop the Mount Rushmore of that elite group of men and women.
Caringi became just the third head coach in the history of Retriever Athletics to reach the quarter-century mark in tenure when the 2015 Retrievers took the field. A year earlier, he led not only the UMBC campus on the magical mystery tour with an NCAA-record four road victories by shutout in tournament play, but the 2014 Retrievers drew fervent fan support from all corners of a pride-filled Charm City.
The “Retriever Fever” Pitch climaxed in Cary, N.C., as the black-and-gold of UMBC dominated the scene at WakeMed Stadium and the surrounding areas of collegiate soccer’s grandest stage. Moments after the heart-breaking 1-0 semifinal loss to eventual national champion Virginia, Caringi’s first thoughts were with the support.
"That was an amazing crowd," he said of the hundreds of Retriever fans that witnessed the game live. Then, he acknowledged, "The whole town got behind us - their enthusiasm says a lot about the school. It was an amazing run with an amazing group of players."
Caringi, his staff, and squad established many school and America East firsts with the march to Cary. He presided over the first UMBC Division I and league-sponsored squad to reach a national semifinal. The Baltimore native earned national Coach of the Year honors from the sport’s governing body, the NSCAA, and from its most respected publication, Soccer America in the 2014 season. The ECAC and America East also recognized Caringi and his staff with their top coaching honors.
UMBC dominated a very strong America East Conference from 2011-2014, winning three straight tournament titles. They became the first team in decades to win back-to-back regular season and tournament titles.
Caringi has built his UMBC record to 293-177-74. The Retrievers were ranked in the top five nationally in 2013 and 2014, and ended the '14 campaign at No. 4 in the country.
Even the most optimistic Retriever fan could not have dreamed that the 2014 squad would exceed the accomplishments of its predecessor. The 2013 Retrievers won their first America East regular season crown since 2003 after completing an undefeated (5-0-2) conference season, then captured a third tournament title and NCAA automatic bid in the last four years. The Retrievers received a first round bye and played UConn in the second round of the 2013 NCAA Men's Soccer College Cup at Retriever Soccer Park. It was the first time in school history that UMBC competed in and hosted an NCAA Division I Tournament contest. The two teams played to a 2-2 double overtime draw; but UConn advanced in a penalty kick shootout.
During the season, UMBC placed in the top ten in all media polls. At its highest point, UMBC reached the No. 5 slot in Top Drawer Soccer, College Soccer News and the Continental Tire NSCAA Poll and climbed to a position of No. 10 in Soccer America. The program finished at No. 8 in the final NCAA RPI rankings.
UMBC finished the 2013 campaign with the top winning percentage in the nation (16-1-5, 84.1%).
Caringi earned the 2013 National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Senior College Men's Northeast Regional Coach of the Year honor. In addition, the Retriever mentor and his staff earned America East Conference Coaching Staff of the Year accolades for the 2013 season.
"I believe Pete Caringi is one of the finest coaches in all of collegiate soccer-at any level," said Director of Athletics Tim Hall. "He has built a top-notch, enduring program - one that others are attempting to emulate. He sees himself as an educator first, which is so important to us. I am confident Pete will continue to have our program compete, at the highest level, well into the future."
Caringi and the Retrievers celebrated 2012 with aplomb, leading the squad to an America East title and past Old Dominion in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Retrievers were ranked No. 28 in the final College Soccer News national poll, and received 24 votes (29th overall) in the final NSCAA poll. UMBC concluded the 2012 season on a nine-game unbeaten streak and did not allow a goal in four post-season games.
The rise of the Retrievers elevated the stature of America East soccer and recent champions Vermont, UMass Lowell, UAlbany and New Hampshire. But UMBC answered in 2018, earning results in three straight road games and reaching the title game for the sixth time since 2009.
In 28 seasons under Head Coach Pete Caringi, UMBC is 181-58-37 (.723) at home and the Retrievers are 121-32-31 (.742) in 184 games on the Bermuda turf of Retriever Soccer Park.
Since 2012, the cozy venue has been ranked in the top 25 in attendance six times. The highest mark the program achieved was a No. 13 ranking in 2015.
Caringi has won at every level, both as a player and as a coach. In his early years at UMBC, he led the Retrievers to a pair of regular-season league titles (1991, 1993), but building a true championship team eluded him. However, after carefully reconstructing his program over time, the Retriever mentor achieved that measure of success in 1999.
Like a master chef, Caringi blended experienced local talent with a couple of international standouts, and finished by adding a few impactful newcomers. The result was one of the finest products in UMBC history. The 1999 Retrievers won the Northeast Conference title, gave No. 1 Duke all it could handle in the NCAA Tournament, finished the year with the nation’s best winning percentage and earned national rankings in every major soccer poll.
Coach Caringi reaped the benefits of the team’s success. He was named Northeast Conference Coach of the Year and NSCAA South Atlantic Region Coach of the Year, and he was a finalist for National Coach of the Year. Moreover, UMBC’s winningest men’s soccer coach became the first soccer coach in school history to surpass the 100-win plateau.
The unprecedented success of the 1999 squad catapulted the program into the 21st century. The 2000 season proved UMBC was not a one-year wonder, despite a newfound bulls-eye on their uniforms, as hungry opponents attempted to knock them from their lofty standing. The Retrievers spent five weeks nationally ranked and bested notables Maryland and George Mason both on the field and in the South Atlantic Region. In 2001, the Retrievers made the four-team NEC Tournament for the fourth consecutive season, falling to eventual Elite Eight team Fairleigh Dickinson, 1-0, in a hard-fought semifinal match. UMBC suffered heavy graduation losses after 2000 and 2001, losing seven All-NEC players and six professional draftees, but Coach Caringi and his staff adapted their style to a more defensive-oriented team in 2002, and the Retrievers responded by winning a share of another regular-season title.
In 2003, the Retrievers were picked sixth in the preseason as they entered the new territory of the America East Conference. But an early tournament victory in the Battle of Baltimore buoyed UMBC, and the Retrievers lost only once (to fourth-ranked Old Dominion) in their first 16 games (10-1-5) and captured the league’s regular-season title with a 5-1-3 record. In 2004, UMBC defeated N.C. State and George Washington en route to its seventh straight winning season. The Retrievers made it eight in a row in 2005, falling just short of another regular-season league title when eventual America East champion Stony Brook nipped them in overtime in the finale, and Coach Caringi was named the conference’s Coach of the Year.
In 2009, UMBC was picked last in the America East preseason poll, but became the only 9-0-0 team in the nation and were ranked in all four national polls. The Retrievers won a pair of road conference tournament games before falling at Stony Brook in the title contest. UMBC finished the season with a mark of 14-6-0.
In 2010, the Retrievers knocked off No. 23 Penn State in University Park and lost only once (4-1-2) in America East play. The team peaked at season’s end, winning the conference title on its home field and upsetting Princeton, 2-1, in the NCAA Tournament.
In 38 years as a collegiate coach, Coach Caringi has never suffered back-to-back sub-.500 seasons.
The Baltimore native was named UMBC’s fourth head coach after 10 sensational years at Essex Community College, where he compiled an overall record of 170-27-8. He coached the Knights to the National Junior College championship game in 1984 and 1989 and was named NJCAA National Coach of the Year and Region XX Coach of the Year in both seasons.
In 1994, he was inducted into the National Junior College Athletic Hall of Fame, and in May 1998, he was inducted into the Maryland Soccer Hall of Fame. In 2009, he was a member of the second class inducted into the University of Baltimore Athletic Hall of Fame and was a member of fourth class selected to the CCBC- Essex Athletics Hall of Fame in 2014. He entered his fifth Hall of Fame in April of 2019, when he was inducted into the UMBC Athletics Hall of Fame.
In the summer of 2019, Caringi celebrated his 37th year at the helm of All-Maryland Soccer Camps, voted one of Maryland's top five camps.
Not only did Caringi have success at the junior college level, but he reached the top in the professional ranks, as well. In 1990, he coached the Maryland Bays of the American Professional Soccer League to a 20-5 record and the league title. He served as assistant coach for the Bays in the 1988 and 1989 seasons.
Caringi was a two-time All-American at the University of Baltimore (1976, 1977) and is the school’s all-time leading goal-scorer with 70 goals. Moreover, the Retriever mentor is 21st on the NCAA Division II all-time goals list and is 39th in scoring with 159 points. He captained the 1975 NCAA Division II national championship team and played for the Washington Diplomats of the North American Soccer League in 1978.
Caringi earned a bachelor’s degree from UB in 1978. He served a term on the Board of Directors of the NSCAA, the lone junior college representative on the board. He has also served on the NCAA South Atlantic Rating Board and the NCAA Men’s Soccer Selection Committee.
He and his wife, Susan, have two children, Christina, a 2011 UMBC graduate, and Pete III, who became UMBC's first-ever NSCAA Division First Team All-American after his senior campaign of 2013. The Caringis welcomed a grandson, Jackson, in November of 2016.
Petey joined his father on the sidelines full-time in 2015, and serves as an assistant coach.
Coach Caringi holds a USSF “A” license and is a staff coach with the ODP under-23 squad.
Caringi Year-By-Year at UMBC
TOTALS 293-177-74 (.606)
(1) East Coast Conference Regular-Season Champions, (2) Big South Conference Regular-Season Champions, (3) Northeast Conference Champions; NCAA Tournament; Final Rankings: #11-Soccer America; #22-NSCAA, (4) Northeast Conference Regular-Season Champions, (5) America East Conference Regular-Season Champions (6) America East Tournament Champions, NCAA Tournament Second Round (7) America East Regular Season and Tournament Championships, NCAA Second Round (8) America East Regular Season and Tournament Championships, NCAA College Cup (national semifinalist)
1975 Captain, NCAA Div. II National Champions, Univ. of Baltimore
1976-77 All-America, University of Baltimore
1978 Forward, Washington Diplomats, NASL
1984 NJCAA National Coach of the Year, Essex CC
1989 NJCAA National Coach of the Year, Essex CC
1990 Head Coach, APSL Champion Maryland Bays
1994 Inducted to National Junior College Hall of Fame
1998 Inducted to Maryland Soccer Hall of Fame
1999 NSCAA South Atlantic Region Coach of the Year
Northeast Conference Coach of the Year
2002 Northeast Conference Coach of the Year
2005 America East Conference Coach of the Year
Inducted into University of Baltimore Hall of Fame
2013 NSCAA Senior College Men's Northeast Regional Coach of the Year
America East Conference Coaching Staff of the Year
2014 NSCAA, ECAC, Soccer America National Coach of the Year
America East Conference Coaching Staff of the Year
2019 Inducted into UMBC Athletics Hall of Fame