UMBC battled local rival Loyola to a 1-1 draw last Saturday in front of a large home crowd
By Dan Levin
A massive crowd turned out at Retriever Soccer Park to see Baltimore Soccer night as the UMBC Retrievers and Loyola Greyhounds played to a 1-1 draw.
“It was great to be back home and play at [Retriever Soccer Park] again,” senior back Jordan Becker said. “I thought at times we were very dangerous and created lots of opportunities to score goals. Defensively we played solid and fought hard to equalize after giving up an early goal in the second half.”
Nearly 2,000 fans packed the park at UMBC, with fans representing both schools present on what turned out to be a beautiful night for soccer. The 21st ranked Retrievers were returning from a tough West Coast trip in which they dropped two games at the Nike UNLV Invitational.
The Greyhounds jumped out in front of UMBC in the 51st minute. Coming off of a counter, sophomore defender Ryan Tuck found the back of the net with a header off of a free kick to give Loyola a 1-0 lead.
But the Retrievers answered back in the 68th minute with transfer Kay Banjo. Banjo, who previously played at another local university in Towson, struck a ball from 23 yards out that found the right corner of the net to tie the game at one.
The teams battled back-and-forth for the rest of regulation and through the two overtime periods but neither could score the game winner. The Retrievers do remain unbeaten (7-0-3) in their last ten home games while moving to 3-2-2 this season.
“Overall I thought we played pretty well just unfortunate to draw a game I felt we deserved to win with the chances that we created,” Becker said. “But we’re continuing to improve every day in practice to be peaking at the end of the season come playoff time. I’m very confident in our coaching staff and our guys from top to bottom.”
Despite the game ending in a draw, it was quite a scene at Retriever Soccer Park. With the prolonged success of the UMBC men’s team and the success of the women’s team last year, the fan base for the soccer program continues to grow each year.
“Lot 17” is the unofficial support group for the UMBC men’s soccer team and their presence can be felt at every home match as well as some away games. Always donning the UMBC black and gold, the group has only grown over the last couple years and their Facebook page now has over 300 likes.
“School spirit has definitely risen since my freshman year. Lot 17 has grown in size and sound with their new cheers,” senior psychology major Dafina Imani Chisolm said after attending the Loyola game. “They get the crowd involved, which gets the team pumped up.”
The nearly 2,000 fans is the most to attend a soccer game at UMBC since September 13, 2011 when the Retrievers fell to the University of Maryland in overtime in front of a crowd of 2,500.
Less than 900 people attended last year’s NCAA tournament game when UMBC hosted UConn but much of that was likely due to the subfreezing temperatures. Online views of that game reached into the thousands.
But for all the fans who came out to Saturday night’s contest, it was nice to see the continued support for such a successful program.
“The turnout for the game was amazing, the most people I’ve seen in a long time,” said Cara Campbell, class of 2013. “Lots of cheering and excitement from everyone. The guys played really well too.”
That support only continues to grow for the team and it’s certainly not lost on the players.
“I can’t say enough how important our support from the community is to our team,” Becker said. “Whether it’s the student body and Lot 17, or the local community that loves to come out and watch us play, everyone is a part of UMBC soccer and the culture we have created here.”