Women’s Soccer Kicks Off Busy Schedule with George Mason, VMI This Week

BALTIMORE–Coming off a double-overtime draw Friday with George Washington, the UMBC women's soccer team (0-4-1) will look to build on the momentum against a pair of non-conference opponents this week. The Retrievers will travel to Fairfax, Va., Tuesday to take on George Mason (8-1-0) at 7 p.m., then return home Thursday evening to host Virginia Military Institute (1-6-0) at 5 p.m. UMBC Soccer Stadium.

Last Time Out: The Retrievers cracked the scoreboard first Friday against George Washington when freshman midfielder Katie Gitlin (Owings, Md./Northern) scored her first career goal. Freshman back Aly Gazarek (Manassas, Va./Freedom/South Florida) sent a corner kick to Gitlin, who headed the ball into the net in the 36th minute to give UMBC a 1-0 lead. The Colonials rallied back to knot the score at 1-1 only 18 seconds into the second half. The teams combined for 14 shots over the final 64:42, but none found their mark and the game ended in a 1-1 tie. UMBC sophomore goalie Mo Van Vlerah (Ijamsville, Md./Northwest) recorded a career-high 10 saves in the game.

On The Patriots: Ranked fifth in the Mid-Atlantic region, George Mason is 7-1-0 this season and coming off the Mason Tournament title after shutting out both Cornell and Long Island this past weekend… With their only season loss to Penn, the Patriots are riding a four-game winning streak as they enter the match against the Retrievers… Midfielder Omolyn Davis leads Mason in scoring with six goals and 14 points on the season, while forward Kelly Keelan also has 14 points and leads the Patriots with six assists… Freshman goalkeeper Katie Frey, the reigning Colonial Athletic Association Rookie of the Week, has tallied 23 saves and boasts an .852 save percentage in her time between the pipes.

The Series: In the teams' only previous meeting, host George Mason defeated UMBC, 2-1, in 1993.

On the Keydets: VMI is 1-6-0 on the season and has lost four in a row, including a 1-0 loss at Navy on Friday… Senior forward Chrissy Beach leads the Keydets in scoring with two goals and two assists for six points… Junior goalkeepers Heidi Beemer and Angela Redmond have shared the time in goal, combining for 40 saves on the season.

The Series: Thursday's match will be the first-ever meeting for UMBC and VMI.

Underclassmen on Top: With Gitlin's goal against the Colonials on Friday, 26 of UMBC's 29 goals since 2007 have been scored by underclassmen, including 18 by freshmen.

Saving the Day: Van Vlerah ranks third in the America East with 6.8 saves per game and sixth with 34 saves on the season. After back-to-back seven-save performances against Bucknell and Towson and a 10-save effort against George Washington, the sophomore has averaged 8.0 stops over her last three contests, and her 34 saves are one shy of her total from 2008, when she saw action in seven games. She has played all 470 minutes between the pipes for the Retrievers.

Extra, Extra: The Retrievers' double-overtime tie with George Washington on Friday was their first overtime game since Oct. 7, 2007, at Maine, and their first tie since Sept. 21, 2007, at Sacred Heart.

The Smith Connection: Thursday's game against VMI will feature some familiar faces for first-year assistant coach Kerry Smith. Prior to joining the Retrievers this summer, Smith spent the last two seasons as the goalkeepers' coach at VMI, where she helped the Keydets become one of the most improved teams in the nation. Under her guidance, the Keydets established new school records in shutouts (6), save percentage (.819) and goals-against average (1.30) in 2008, when they won a program-record 10 games.

Up Next: The Retrievers play six games in the next 13 days. Following midweek games against George Mason and VMI, UMBC begins America East play at Maine (3-3-1) on Sunday at 12 p.m. Last season, the Retrievers defeated the Black Bears, 1-0, in the conference opener.