Despite entering conference play with a respectable 4-5 overall record, it appears the Retrievers women’s soccer team completely lost their footing against conference opponents. Going into their final two games of the season, the Retrievers are 1-4-1, and sit at the bottom of the America East Conference standings.
Before facing their conference rivals, UMBC managed to rebound from a four game losing streak and faced their first conference foe, the University of New Hampshire, with momentum on a two game winning streak. However, their momentum could not prevent them form getting blown out by New Hampshire 4-0.
Scoring has proven to be a difficult task for the Retrievers, as they are currently being outscored by AEC opponents 10-5 in six games. Three of the Retrievers five goals came during their 3-0 shutout of the University of Maine, which excluding that game would take them from a minus five goal differential, to a disappointing minus eight.
Although, the Retrievers still rank third in the AEC in total points on the season (59) and tied for fourth with the University at Albany in goals (19). All of this is despite a low amount of shots from the Retrievers, who are eighth in the AEC with 146 shots, 80 behind conference leader Stony Brook University. Stony Brook averages 14.12 shots per game and rank second in both points and goals.
According to head coach Leslie Wray, UMBC has found success thanks to their ability to create services, which have resulted in scoring opportunities for the team.
Even though it’s been a fairly dreary late season, one highlight this season to also look forward to for years to come is the emergence of goalkeeper sophomore Leah Roth. The young playmaker at goalie is proving her worth wracking up an impressive 82 saves so far this season and averaging 5.86 per game. If the Retrievers hope to move forward this season, they will need more high-level play from Roth.
Roth is indicative of a larger problem this season, that in the future may prove to be a major benefit for UMBC: it is a mostly young team.
“We’re young,” said Wray after Oct. 16’s loss to Stony Brook. “Today we started six freshmen and one red shirt, so in total we had seven players on the field who haven’t played much. It’s a learning experience for them going forward.”
UMBC possesses a total of eight freshmen, which is more than any other year on the team. Juniors and sophomores are tied at 6, which makes for a total of 14 underclassmen playing for the team. And at the same time UMBC only has four seniors, which is five less compared to first place University of Hartford’s eight.
The Retrievers have two games remaining, one at home against last place Binghamton University and one on the road against fourth place Albany. If the Retrievers hope to keep their season alive, they will have to do something they have not yet done this season: win on the road, which they are currently 0-7-1.
“It’s tough going into this final push,” said Wray. “It’s always tough capturing something on the road, we got a result against Vermont in a tie, so we got to just keep grinding it out and win on.”
Since only six teams can move on to the conference playoffs and the Retrievers currently hold a poor conference record (which determines who qualifies), they will need help from other teams in the conference to find themselves in post-season play. If rivals Vermont and Maine are handed losses the Retrievers can squeeze into the tournament.
The Retrievers final home game is Oct. 27 against Binghamton, which will celebrate the team’s seniors at home one last time before they graduate.