Despite losing key players, UMBC still on top
The Retriever Weekly Sports Staff
Last season was a historic one for the UMBC men’s soccer team. The Retrievers went 16-1-3, captured a third America East Conference title in a four year span, cracked the NSCAA top-ten, and earned a first round bye in the NCAA tournament before falling to the University of Connecticut on penalty kicks.
The Retrievers relied on senior leadership from Pete Caringi III, Kareem Dacres, Travis Dennis and goalkeeper Phil Saunders last season. Caringi lead the Retrievers in scoring with 13 goals while Dacres followed him with seven. Dennis helped lead the defence in a midfielder/back role, and Saunders finished his senior season with 52 saves and a .70 goals-against average. All four of those big-time players have moved on, and the Retrievers are left asking who will step up and fill those roles.
Senior Gaton Caltabiano led the Retrievers and the America East in assists and finished third on the team in goals. Caltabiano started his collegiate career at the Loyola University Maryland, where he lead the offense in his only season with the Greyhounds. The 5’5” senior has the speed and vision to command the Retriever’s offense, but will need help from fellow seniors Marquez Fernandez, Mamadou Kansaye and Oumar Ballo, who was named to the MAC Herman Trophy Watchlist.
The biggest question for the Retrievers this season will be who is going to fill the pipes in the absence of Phil Saunders.
UMBC was picked to finish first in the America East again this season and were ranked just inside the NCSAA top twenty at 19. The Retrievers will still be a powerhouse in the America East, but they will look to make more of a national name for themselves as they face five teams that reached last year’s NCAA tournament. The Retrievers start the 2014 season with a match against Long Island University at home this Friday as part of the Doubletree BWI Classic.