As the UMBC men’s soccer team pushes for a high standing ahead of the playoffs in November, the senior players will look to lead this relatively young team to success. At the forefront of the charge is Retriever captain and senior-midfielder Patrick Jean-Gilles. He often starts Retriever attacks by winning the ball off the opposition and passing the ball forward. He has also provided an assist this season to sophomore-forward Cesare Marconi’s game winning goal against Rutgers.
Jean-Gilles, a financial economics major who is of Haitian descent, considers all his teammates his brothers and plays Fortnite and sports video games in his spare time. He describes himself as a sports fan and his favorite teams include the Chelsea Football Club, Los Angeles Lakers, Washington Capitals, New York Yankees and the New England Patriots. He also likes to watch Tiger Woods and tennis legend Roger Federer.
Jean-Gilles lists his favorite movie as Marvel’s Avengers, and he likes to eat steak and mashed potatoes. As a young child, he acted in children’s theater, but now he cannot imagine himself not playing soccer. Jean-Gilles’ father, who also used to play soccer, began teaching him to play at age three. In his teenage years, he captained for the DC United Academy before being called up to the U-18 United States national team camp in 2014. He requires a nap before every game to play at his optimal level. He plans to pursue professional soccer after graduation and then work where his financial economics skills are desired.
“[I decided to come to UMBC because of] the soccer program,” Jean-Gilles said on how he believes UMBC can help him reach his goals. “They hit a high in 2014 [when the Retrievers made the final four]. I knew that the soccer program was one that would have national visibility. Also, UMBC is strong in academics and I had heard good things about Coach [Pete Caringi Jr].”
“[Caringi Jr.] plays an offensive, aggressive style of play,” noted Jean-Gilles. “He doesn’t like to play defensive and he is goal oriented.”
Jean-Gilles said he believes that this year’s version of the Retrievers has the talent and the wherewithal to win a championship. He also believes he has a big role to play in coaching his less experienced teammates.
“[There are] a lot of new faces, but everyone gets along,” Jean-Gilles said. “Team chemistry is very good, and everyone is ready to give 100%. It is team-oriented. One of the big lessons [I have learned] is that the team is bigger than yourself. It’s less about my individual performance and more about how I can influence others and work harder for my teammates. With the younger players, we want to help them to understand our philosophy and our approach to games here. We want to make sure they are comfortable so they can feel [like] a part of the team and a part of the UMBC community.”
His personal goals this year, especially as he is a senior and about to leave the team, are to win a championship and make first team All-Conference. He also dreams of a UMBC championship win at the Retriever Soccer Park.
“The team can go as far as it wants to go,” Jean-Gilles said of the team’s chances. “We have the talent [to win the championship], we just have to work hard, put performances together and keep getting victories. That’s what matters. A dream I have always had is hosting the [America East playoff] final at UMBC. Lifting the trophy in front of thousands of fans, the fans rushing the field and lifting the players up as we hold the trophy. I want that to happen this year.”