After playing a remarkably historic season last year, UMBC’s men’s soccer team is kicking off the Fall 2015 season with a bang. Earlier this August, the team was ranked No.12 in the 2015 National Soccer College Association of America Division 1 preseason rankings. The team was also voted in America East’s 2015 coaches’ preseason poll as America East Co-Favorites alongside University of Hartford.
Several upperclassmen will be returning to the team for the new season. Among those players are sophomore forward Cormac Noel. Last year, he made an appearance in thirteen games, scoring his first goal against Appalachian State just over one minute after Appalachian State scored against UMBC.
Junior midfielder/forwarder Michael Burgos will also be returning. In 2012, he played in 21 out of 22 games his freshman year and scored multiple goals, including two goals in the America East championship contest. He was unable to compete in 2013 due to a preseason injury, but played in at least 19 games last season in 2014.
This year, there are eight seniors that will be playing on the field, such as returning midfielder Malcolm Harris. Harris started his college soccer career at the University of Denver in 2012. He played all 20 matches of their 2012 campaign, seeing 1,116 minutes of action on the field. In that time, he scored seven goals and five assists. In 2013, he arrived at UMBC and competed in all 20 games that season as well. Last year, Harris scored one of the most important goals in UMBC’s history during the NCAA Tournament Second Round game against University of Maryland, helping the Retrievers win 1-0 and advance to the next round.
Other returning upperclassmen include sophomore midfielder/back fielder Gregg Hauck, sophomore back fielder Tom Paul, junior goalkeeper Billy Heavner, junior forwarder Kennedy O’Shea, senior forward/midfielder Michael Scott and senior midfielder/back fielder Zach Wenger.
Within the group of familiar faces will be seven promising freshmen introduced in the Fall 2015 season. This includes forward/midfielder David Harris and back fielder Kyle Saunderson, both of whom are past teammates, coming to UMBC from Reservoir High School (Fulton, Md). Harris was the school’s top scorer in both 2013 and 2014, and in 2012 was a member of Reservoir’s regional and state 3A champion squad. Saunderson was a four-year varsity starter at Reservoir.
Another new pair of past teammates is making their way to UMBC’s team for the first time: back fielder Riley Collins from Loyola-Blakefield High School (Towson, Md) and midfielder James Gielen from DeMatha Catholic High School (Hyattsville, Md). Unlike Harris and Saunderson, who were past teammates in the same high school, Collins and Gielen are both members of the Baltimore Celtic Soccer Club. During high school, Collins earned First Team All-State and All-Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association honors. Gielen scored 13 goals and seven assists during his senior year and captained Dematha’s 2014 Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship team.
Other incoming freshman include back fielder Tyler Ward from Mill Creek High School (Hoschton, GA), midfielder Josh Sengendo from Kings College School (Wimbledon, England), and midfielder Patrick Jean- Gilles from South County High School (Lorton, VA).
These new Retrievers will be entering a very accomplished team. The Fall 2014 season for UMBC’s men’s soccer team was their most astounding season played to date. The Retrievers competed in 25 overall games, seven of which were America East conference games. Altogether, they won 14 of those games, tied six, and lost five. A total of 37 goals were scored throughout the season, 15 of those during conference matches. 399 shots were kicked overall with an average of 13.6 shots per game, and 140 of these were shots on goal.
Achievements for the team last season include being crowned America East Conference Champions for their fourth time since 2010 after defeating University of Hartford 2-1 in the final match.
Despite their season ending with loss in the NCAA semi-finals 0-1, Fall 2014 is still regarded by UMBC as their most successful due to their historic advancement in the competition, in addition to their win in America East.
Assistant Head Coach Anthony Adams commented about their success. “We had talented, high-character players that love to compete. We aren’t surprised we went that far.”
And as Fall 2015 unfolds, thoughts about whether the team can repeat their previous successes will arise.
“We have a set standard of excellence here. They [the victories] feel great but those are in the past.” Adams explains, “We must look forward to being the best team we can be this year.”
He further addresses that the team is going to work on their goal into the championship, and that striving to improve each day, as well as working closer together each day, is the way into the tournament. From there, “You can never know what happens.”
The Retrievers will play the opening game of their Fall 2015 season by hosting the Hampton Inn BWI Classic at the Retriever Soccer Park on Friday, August 28 at 7 p.m. against new opponent Fairfield University. Two days later on Sunday, August 30 at 7 p.m. they will play against another new opponent, University of Central Arkansas, also at the Retriever Soccer Park.