Despite graduation of Kadet, Retrievers considered top team in AEC
By Nathan Grube
After a turnaround season in 2013 where the UMBC women’s soccer team finished first in the America East Conference, the Retrievers are looking to defend their conference title in 2014.
In 2012 the Retrievers did not record a win in conference games, losing five and tying three, and only had one win on the season. Last season, UMBC won six of their conference matches to tie for the best record in the conference heading into the tournament. They won the conference tournament and are looking to continue their success this year. Head coach Leslie Wray took control of the team in 2012, which became a transition year for the Retrievers. Once she got settled in, the team began to play at a high level.
UMBC was voted the number one team in the America East in the pre-season poll, the voters showing their confidence that the team can repeat their past success. The Retrievers beat out the Stony Brook Seawolves in the poll, who tied UMBC for first in the regular season last year.
The biggest loss for UMBC in the offseason was the graduation of goalkeeper Lauren Kadet who was one of the top goalies in school history and holds the school record for saves. Taking her place will be junior Jen Nance and sophomore Annette Cappellino.
Even with the loss of Kadet, the Retrievers are returning plenty of talent from last year’s squad including juniors Alexa Quaranta and Amira Walcott. Quaranta made the America East All-Conference first team as a sophomore and Walcott made the All-Conference second team as well. Both these young talents were crucial to the success last season, and with another year under their belts they will have more experience.
The team opened up their season against the Naval Acadamy after several warm up matches against Old Dominion University and George Mason University. In 2013, the Retrievers won seven non-conference matches while losing four and tying twice. UMBC only has four before the conference season starts, so they must make the most of their non-conference home games.
The Retrievers have some fortune with their conference schedule this season. Both Stony Brook and University of Maine play at UMBC, and the Retrievers do not have to go to either of those schools during the regular season. The Seawolves and the Black Bears are picked to finish second and third respectively in the conference. Getting those games at home could be a big advantage for UMBC.
The conference road schedule includes the teams that are expected to finish fourth through eighth in the conference. While games can never be sure victories, it is nice to get to play weaker teams on the road and stronger teams at home.
The Retrievers are looking to get back to the NCAA tournament after their first round exit last season. With returning talent and some new faces, the Retrievers are ready for the task ahead of them.