The elation of the Retrievers’ double-overtime win over Villanova’s Wildcats has not worn off yet. Freshman-goalkeeper Quantrell Jones chose it as his favorite UMBC game to date. It is easy to see why: two of his teammates scored their first career goals, the Retrievers scored late in both second halves and the victory encapsulated the skill and camaraderie that the team has. Jones played his part in the game, making three saves, and he seems determined to play a bigger role in the outcome of UMBC’s season.
Jones, a Baltimore native, describes himself as an “open book with no secrets.” His favorite teams are FC Barcelona, the Baltimore Orioles and the Boston Celtics, after switching from the Cleveland Cavaliers. He spends his free time playing “God of War,” “Spiderman,” “FIFA,” “NBA 2K” and watching “Impractical Jokers.”
He calls soccer “my love, my happy place and a great stress reliever.” He was introduced to the sport by his best friend at age four. He is grateful to his mother for letting him play the game and supporting him all the way. His pre-game ritual includes listening to music and watching motivational videos on YouTube. He plans to play professionally after graduating.
Jones has played with Baltimore Celtic soccer club, D.C. United Academy and USA Youth National Team. He played for D.C. for one year and laments a missed opportunity to meet Manchester United and English legend Wayne Rooney, who joined D.C. the season after Jones’ last game. Jones also enjoyed some time with the national team, as it gave him an opportunity to play abroad as part of the Under-17 World Cup, where Jones and the U.S. made the semi-finals. The players lived at IMG Academy, a preparatory boarding school in Florida for two years training for the tournament. Jones recalls it as a “once in a lifetime opportunity that I was grateful to have”.
He currently plays for FC Baltimore, a club in the National Premier Soccer League. Baltimore head coach Brandon Quaranta, who was his former coach at Baltimore Celtic, got together with his DC United coach to give him the chance to play club football regularly while still training with D.C.’s first team. Jones believed that playing against semi-professional teams and college players helped him prepare for division 1 soccer with the Retrievers.
Jones credits his FC Baltimore teammates, who he already knew from his previous club, with helping him get the speed and consistency he needed to play at college level. He says the standards at the club are high, which pushes him to raise his standards and in turn, grow as a player. In addition, his Retriever teammates who also play for FC Baltimore assisted him in balancing the workload of both teams.
Jones describes Coach Caringi Jr.’s style as keeping the ball well and going forward quickly when the time is right. He adds that Coach always tells him that he and sophomore-goalie Ciaran O’Loughlin are two of the best goalkeepers in the league. Jones believes that both keepers “raise [the team’s] standards because [they] are both high quality.” He has been the Retrievers’ number one for the last few games as O’Loughlin was injured, he says it “feels good [to start] because I have been working hard.”
“This team can go far if we keep doing the correct things,” Jones said on the Retrievers’ chances of success this year. “We are on a winning streak, and if we play [the whole season] how we played against Villanova, we can go really far.”
“Just keep coming out to support,” was Jones’ message to the fans. “The fans are fantastic every game. It is my first time experiencing a crowd like this and I love every second of it. Thank you because you help us out.”