BALTIMORE – UMBC women's soccer opens its first conference tournament as the No. 1 seed and will look for its first-ever victory in the America East Championship when it hosts No. 4 Hartford on Sunday, Nov. 3 at Retriever Soccer Park. The action starts at 1 p.m., and can be seen live on UMBCRetrievers.tv. The first 200 students in attendance will receive free admission.
The Retrievers (11-5-2, 6-2-0 AE) clinched a share of their first-ever regular-season title last Sunday, matching the program's highest win total with a 2-1 victory against New Hampshire. UMBC's turnaround over the past year ranked third in Division I, with only UAB and Cornell posting a higher winning percentage differential. The turnaround also marked the league's biggest improvement, going from last in the conference in 2012 to first in 2013.
UMBC posted its highest scoring output since 2005 and ranked third in the league with 26 goals. America East All-Conference First Team selection and the league's Fans' Choice Player of the Year Alexa Quaranta (Baltimore, Md./Perry Hall) pilots the squad with seven goals and 15 points, while AEC Co-Midfielder of the Year Jessy Brown (Plantation, Fla./American Heritage) enjoyed a breakout year with five of her six goals representing game-winners.
The Retrievers' backline continued to show improvements in 2013, dropping its goal allowance down to 19 scores this season, compared to 41 goals allowed in 2011 and 26 allowed in 2012. Sophomore back Amira Walcott (Beltsville, Md./Eleanor Roosevelt) and sophomore goalkeeper Lauren Kadet (Oakville, Ontario/St. Thomas Aquinas) earned America East Second Team honors for their efforts on the season. Kadet, the program's all-time saves leader, enters Sunday's contest with 71 stops on the year and 379 in her career.
Despite falling behind early, Hartford (11-5-3, 5-3-0 AE) defeated No. 5 Vermont, 2-1, on Thursday in quarterfinal action. The Hawks used freshman back Caitlin Smallfield and Co-Midfielder of the Year Stephanie Santos' first goals of the season to get past the Catamounts. Santos added an assist, her eighth of the season, for three points on the night.
Striker of the Year Chanel Johnson leads the squad with nine goals and three assists on the year to rank second in the league in both scores and points (21). Senior forward Natasha Douglas is chipping in five goals and two assists.
Hartford placed three freshmen on the All-Rookie team, including Smallfield and first-year goalkeeper Jessica Jurg. Jurg ranks first in the league in goals per game (0.65) and shutouts (eight). The rookie is making 3.33 saves per game.
UMBC used a pair of goals over the final 3:25 to defeat Hartford on Thursday, Oct. 24. Johnson put the Hawks out in front in the 83rd minute of Hartford's regular season finale. Brown headed in a corner kick from junior back Melissa Hummel (Downingtown, Pa./Downingtown East) for the equalizer and with 1:00 remaining, freshman forward Amanda Dailey (Howell, N.J./Freehold Township/Monmouth) completed the come-from-behind victory by gathering a cross from junior back Morgan Taylor (Severna Park, Md./Severna Park) and taping home the score. The victory brought UMBC's all-time record against the Hawks to 3-9-0 and marked the Retrievers' first win against Hartford since 2009.
By the Numbers
-UMBC has had six 11-win seasons in its 26 year existence, but has never surpassed 11 victories in a season. The Retrievers last 11-win season was in 2001.
-The black and gold enters its third America East Championship (2003 & 2005). The Retrievers have never won an America East Championship game and are 8-9 at advancing in conference tournament games.
-UMBC has never won a conference tournament title, but has made it to the championship game four times.
-The Retrievers have never taken on Hartford in postseason play.
-The head of the America East's Coaching Staff of the Year Leslie Wray makes her first appearance in America East Championship since 2001 when she was at the helm of Towson.
-The Retrievers received two major AEC postseason awards for the first time since joining the conference. UMBC finished with six different student-athletes being honored for nine awards, the Retrievers most in program history.
-UMBC has never hosted an America East Championship women's soccer contest.
-Alexa Quaranta and Melissa Hummel each have a chance to make their way into the Retrievers' single-season record book. Quaranta is one shot shy of entering the top-10 in shots, while Hummel is one helper away from entering the top-10 in assists.