Leslie Wray continues her revitalization of the UMBC women’s soccer program after guiding the Retrievers to a pair of America East Tournament appearances in back-to-back-to-back seasons. Wray looks to continue the program’s recent success in her fifth year at the helm, but will have to do so following the departure of a very influential 2015 senior class.
Wray was named the eighth head coach in the program’s history in January of 2012 and helped the Retrievers’ program celebrate its 25th season in her first year at the controls, completing the campaign with a program record five ties and leading UMBC to its first win in over a season.
In just her second season with the program, Wray guided the Retrievers to a Cinderella run. With a combined 14 wins in its prior six seasons, UMBC registered the third-biggest turnaround in Division I women’s soccer in 2013 and the largest turnaround in America East history. Two years removed from a winless 2011 season, Wray helped the Retrievers to post a program-record 13 wins, a share of its first-ever regular-season title, a league crown and an NCAA Tournament appearance. UMBC put up a fight, battling College Cup semifinalist Virginia Tech in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament and finished the season ranked in the top-10 of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Northeast Region Poll.
The Retrievers became the first team to complete the worst-to-first turnaround during America East action, moving from a 0-5-3 conference record in 2012 to a 6-2-0 mark in 2013. Wray and her staff were honored by being named the America East Coaching Staff of the Year, the second staff in program history to receive the honor. Red-shirt junior Jessy Brown became the first UMBC women’s soccer player to take home a major award from the America East, by being recognized as Co-Midfielder of the Year. The Retrievers would also have four players named to the All-Tournament Team, with Brown receiving the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player award. Brown would also garner Eastern College Athletic Association (ECAC) All-Star Second Team honors and NSCAA All-Region Third Team recognition.
In addition to five players receiving All-Conference recognition, Brown and sophomore back Nikki Boretti proved that Wray’s Retrievers can get things done in the classroom as well as the field. The duo became the third and fourth members of the program to earn spots on the league’s All-Academic Team. Brown was also named to the NSCAA University Division Women’s Scholar All-East Region Second Team.
The squad also did its part in the community, participating in Headers for Hope, which raised nearly 18 thousand dollars for the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults, as well as selling shirts for the team’s annual Fight in Pink game, with proceeds going to the Susan G. Komen fund.
In 2014, the Retrievers used their confidence from the 2013 campaign to post yet another successful campaign under Wray. UMBC recorded its lowest number of losses in program history en route to a second-place finish in the America East standings. The Retrievers earned eight conference honors at the end of the regular-season, with Brown highlighting the honors by becoming the first women’s soccer player in league history to be named Midfielder of the Year in back-to-back seasons. Junior back Amira Walcott and junior goalkeeper Jen Nance earned America East All-Conference First Team and Second Team honors, respectively, after helping the Retrievers record the lowest number of goals allowed in program history, including a single-season program record of nine shutouts for Nance.
Wray saw the team and players earn recognition on a national level for their efforts both on the field and in the classroom in 2014. On the field, the Retrievers were ranked as high as No. 6 in the Northeast Region by the NSCAA. Off the field, the team was honored with the NSCAA Team Academic Award for a combined 3.0 GPA or higher. Individually, UMBC saw Brown be recognized as a nominee for the Senior CLASS Award, as a semifinalist for the coveted Wooden Citizenship Cup, as a NSCAA Scholar All-East Region Second Team honoree and as an NSCAA All-Northeast Region Second Team member. Boretti continued to be recognized for her work in the classroom, becoming the first player in program history to receive the nation’s top academic distinction, earning a spot on the 2014 Capital One Academic All-America First Team. Rookie Lisa Nanov added in a pair of ECAC Rookie of the Week distinctions, as well as being ranked 83rd on Top Drawer Soccer’s Midseason Top-100 Freshmen list.
Prior to UMBC, Wray served as the head coach at Towson University from 1999-2006 and recorded the most victories of any coach in that program’s history. She resigned from her position after the 2006 season in order to stay at home with her young children.
In her second season at Towson, the 2000 Tigers tied a school record with 10 victories and reached the America East semifinals. Half of TU’s losses came at the hands of teams that went to the NCAA Tournament, including 1-0 setbacks to No. 8 Hartford and No. 9 Maryland.
In 2005, her tenacious defense produced six shutouts and allowed only 21 goals in 18 games as Towson went 8-7-3 as members of the Colonial Athletic Association.
The former Leslie Kerhin was a first team all-state selection at Parkville High School and earned junior college All-America status at Essex Community College in 1992. She then started for three seasons at Maryland and finished her Terrapin career with six goals and 15 assists.
After graduation, Wray spent two years as an assistant coach at Towson (1996-97) and two seasons in the same capacity at the University of Missouri (1997-99). She earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology at Maryland and her master’s in education at Missouri.
In 2000, she married Sean Wray, also a 1995 Maryland graduate and soccer standout for the Terrapins. In July of 2006, the couple welcomed a son, Roman, and a daughter, Melena, and in 2007, Ashton, joined the family.
Wray played for the USWISL Maryland Pride team for three years and was a member of its National Championship Team. She served as a co-head coach for the Maryland Olympic Program from 2000-04 and guided the U-16 and U-17 squads to regional titles in 2003 and 2004, respectively.