Baltimore-UMBC head coach Tara Koleski recently announced the Retrievers' 2007 schedule. The Retrievers open their season Aug. 31 at 3 p.m. against in-state rival Towson at UMBC Soccer Stadium.
"We're excited about our upcoming season and we're preparing for the challenges to take this team to the next level," Koleski said. "It will start with competing against teams of higher caliber."
Following their first game against the Tigers since 2002, the Retrievers will take on Elon (Sept. 2, UMBC) and Drexel (Sept. 6, Philadelphia) for the first time ever, before heading to Lewisburg, Pa., to face Bucknell, the Patriot League's regular-season champion, on Sept. 9.
The Retrievers will host local rival Howard (Sept. 12) and regionally ranked Pennsylvania (Oct. 23) under the lights at UMBC Stadium. Both games will be played at 7 p.m.
The Retrievers' non-conference schedule also features road games against Atlantic-10 foe Richmond (Sept. 15) and ACC opponent N.C. State (Sept. 16), as well as Sacred Heart (Sept. 21) and Army (Sept. 23).
UMBC opens America East play on Sept. 30 at Stony Brook, while the conference home opener is Oct. 4 against New Hampshire. The Retrievers also host defending champion Hartford on Oct. 11, as well as Vermont (Oct. 21) and Albany (Oct. 28). The Great Danes visit UMBC Soccer Stadium for the regular-season finale and Senior Day.
The Retrievers' conference road schedule includes stops at Maine (Oct. 7), Boston U. (Oct. 14) and Binghamton (Oct. 25).
After opening the season with two home games, the Retrievers take to the road for seven of the next eight games.
The America East Championships will take on a new format in 2007, as the Nos. 3 and 4 seeds will host the quarterfinals on Thursday, Nov. 1, and the Nos. 1 and 2 seeds will host the semifinals on Sunday, Nov. 4. The highest remaining seed will then host the title game on either Saturday, Nov. 10, or Sunday, Nov. 11.
Meet the New Dawgs: Koleski and first-year assistant coach Nicci Wright brought in a large recruiting class of 10 freshmen for the 2007 season. The newcomers will join the 16 returning players who hope to bounce back after a tough 4-13-1 season in 2006.
"Everyone that's coming in is very fast," Koleski said. "These players are all coming from ODP, they're all Region 1 pool players. We've recruited players who have a good background of training, and they're coming to us from elite club teams and elite levels of play. I think that kind of experience coming in as freshmen is valuable to us as a rebuilding program."
Elyse Bilardo is an outside midfielder from Aston, Pa. A three-year member of the Eastern Pennsylvania State (EPYSA) Olympic Development Program, she was a four-year starter at Sun Valley High School and Cardinal O'Hara High School, and she played club soccer for the FC Delco Lightning and Spirit United Gaels. Bilardo earned first-team all-division, second-team all-Delco and honorable mention all-area accolades in 2006.
"Elyse is a fast player, a tough player who comes from a good, quality club team," Koleski said. "I think as a freshman she'll come in and bring us a lot of pace from a flank position or up top."
Erin Johnson out of Eagleville, Pa., will play midfield and forward at UMBC. A four-year varsity player at Methacton High School, she played club soccer with Bucksmont United '88. Johnson earned first-team all-state honors as a junior and senior, and she was named Times Herald Player of the Year as a junior.
"Erin Johnson is extraordinarily fast," Koleski said. "She's one of the most physical players I've ever seen play. She's great in the air, but she can also serve balls in from an outside position."
Megan McDonald, a midfielder from Wyoming, Pa., played soccer at Dallas High School, as well as for the Wyoming Valley Soccer Club, which was an indoor state finalist in 2006 and 2007. McDonald also played four years with the EPYSA state ODP team that won regionals in 2006 and 2007 and won the national championship in 2007. She helped lead Dallas High School to the district championship in 2005 and 2006, as well.
"Megan McDonald is a crafty player," Koleski said. "She makes a lot of things happen based on her technical ability and desire to always get forward."
Kathryn O'Leary is a 5-foot-9 midfielder from Fayetteville, Ark., who was a four-year starter for the two-time state finalist team at Fayetteville High School. O'Leary spent six years with the Arkansas state ODP and played club soccer for the five-time state champion Arkansas Comets '88 team.
"She has a lot of size and will be vital for us winning balls in the midfield," Koleski said. "She'll give us an extra presence defensively."
Meagan Rivera out of Fairport, N.Y., will play midfield and forward at UMBC. A four-year varsity starter and senior captain at Penfield High School, Rivera was named MVP in 2006 after leading the team with 11 goals and seven assists. She is a three-time first-team all-county honoree and a two-time all-Greater Rochester honorable mention. Rivera was also a four-year starter with the New York West State ODP team, and a five-year team captain of the Rochester Jr. Rhinos, which won the 2003 and 2004 NYW State Cup championship.
"Every time she gets the ball, she's looking to go to goal," Koleski said. "We had trouble scoring last year, and Meagan Rivera is someone who will score goals for us."
Christine Sadowski is a defender from Kenwood High School in Baltimore. One of the Retrievers' two local recruits, Sadowski earned first-team all-county and all-division honors all four years in high school, as well as all-state three times and all-Metro as a junior and senior. She was also an NCSAA/adidas All-South Region III honoree as a sophomore, and she was nominated for All-America as a senior. A three-time team MVP at Kenwood, Sadowski also played on the Baltimore Bays '89 team that won the 2004 state championship, and she attended the Super Y League ODP National Camp in 2004 and 2005.
"She will be great for us as a defender," Koleski said. "She's a very smart, composed player in the ball. I think that her leadership in the back will help us be more organized defensively."
Ashley Singer was Sadowski's high school teammate at Kenwood and on the Baltimore Bays. Singer is a forward who was selected to the all-county first team and all-Metro second team in 2006. She also earned all-state honors as a freshman, when she scored in every game. Singer was a member of the MSYSA ODP team, and she currently plays for the WPSL's Maryland Pride.
"Ashley Singer is one of the best players to come out of Maryland in 2007," Koleski said. "She's a great attacking player who can score goals up top. She has a lot of pace and she's not afraid of anything. I think that in our conference, she will find ways to score goals. She just never quits. She's full of energy when she plays."
Caitlyn Slattery is a midfielder from Williamsport, Pa., where she was a four-year varsity starter at Williamsport High School. She was her team MVP as both a junior and senior, and she earned NSCAA Pennsylvania all-state, east all-region and coaches all-region accolades. Slattery led her team in assists as a senior and ranked second in scoring. She also played 10 years with the North Union United Soccer Club.
"Caitlyn Slattery is a playmaker as a central midfielder," Koleski said. "She sees the game very well. I think with the kind of pace that we're bringing in, she will be a pivotal component of our midfield because she will be able to play players into dangerous spots. She's great defensively, and she's just a solid player all-around."
Sandra Vacarino is a forward from Mantua, N.J., where she was a two-year team captain at Clearview Regional High School. Vacarino earned first-team all-conference and all-state honors as a senior, and she helped lead her team to the South Jersey finals in 2005 and the semifinals in 2006. She played club soccer for the Woodstown United Eclipse, and she also played in the Super-Y League with Delaware.
"She's a fast, tenacious player," Koleski said. "She'll be a versatile player for us in a couple different positions. She has a never-quit attitude, and she brings a lot of pace to UMBC."
Morgan Warrington is a defender from Magnolia, Del., where she was a four-year varsity team member and two-time all-state selection at St. Thomas Moore Prep School. She was voted team MVP by her teammates and coaches as a senior. Warrington was a member of the Delaware State ODP and played club soccer with both the Kirkwood Phantoms and DSB Kickers. She was named the 2007 Outstanding Female Athlete by the Delaware Women's Alliance for Sport and Fitness and the Women's Scholar Athlete of the Year at St. Thomas Moore.
"One word to describe Morgan is tough," Koleski said. "She's an attacking defender in that she gets out of the back and goes forward a lot. She will bring a lot of pace to our back line. She'll elevate our game as a team, and she'll allow us to be a more physical team than we were last year."
Retrievers Pick Captains: Koleski also announced that seniors Alexis Rogowsky and Morgan Sacchetti, red-shirt junior Amy Morrison and junior Kali Schwartz will serve as team co-captains for the 2007 season.