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Then & Now: A look back at the early days of men’s soccer

On Nov 4, 1966, UMBC’s first athletics team, men’s soccer, took the field. In their fiery debut, the men’s soccer squad faced off against local state rival, the University of Maryland, College Park.

Unfortunately for the Retrievers, their intercollegiate sports debut ended in disappointment as they lost to College park 4-1. The team then capped off the season with a 1-0 loss against Towson State College. Despite the pair of losses, the team pleased head coach Tom Rider with their display of hustle, desire and teamwork.

“Everyone on the team seems to be giving 100 percent. They’re working together beautifully,” Rider said to The Retriever in 1966, after the College Park game.

UMBC performed admirably in both games, considering their limited practices. The Retrievers previously only played a single exhibition game under regulated game conditions against Catonsville Community College, only having a few weeks of practice under their belts. They also did not possess a proper practice facility or field to play on in 1966, and had to play on the road for all their games. As a result, practice mainly focused on developing the team’s fundamentals.

The Retrievers did not achieve a winning record until 1968 where, under Coach Rider, they attained an 8-1-2 record. Since then, the Retrievers’ soccer program has gone on to reach great heights, and is now known as one of the best programs in the nation.

The men’s soccer program has competed in the NCAA Tournament six times, including a final four appearance in 2014. The Retrievers have also been crowned conference and regular season champions seven times, and have been ranked nationally several times in their history, with the highest ranking placing them as the fifth best team in the country.

According to the team’s Facebook page, over 50 players since 1991 have gone on to be drafted or signed by professional teams.