UMBC - Four Star Recruiting Class - If you are looking for a team from a mid-major conference that is primed to make a major run in 2013, then you need look no further than UMBC. The Retrievers could be in for one of the best, if not the best, seasons in the history of the program in 2013. They did well for themselves last year by winning the America East Title and advancing past Old Dominion in the NCAA Tourney before pushing North Carolina to the brink in the second round of play before going down in a penalty kick shootout.
Eight starters from the 2012 team are slated to return including senior forward Pete Caringi III (14g, 4a) who is among the top goal scorers in the nation and tenacious senior goalkeeper Phil Saunders who posted ten shutouts last year. Throw in the fact that the Retrievers have added a recruiting class that includes three very talented transfers who should hit the ground running and there are plenty of tangible reasons to be excited about UMBC's prospects heading into the 2013 campaign.
Regarding his six member 2013 recruiting class head coach Pete Caringi, Jr. stated, "This is a top twenty recruiting class with some of the best players to come out of the State of Maryland." He added, "What I like most is that they all come from winning backgrounds and will add a lot to the program."
Despite the optimism, Caringi, Jr. who will enter his twenty-third year at the helm of the program does have some big shoes to fill due to the graduation of central defender Liam Paddock (3g, 1a) and midfielders Milo Kapor (3g, 13a) and Dave Vaeth (1g, 1a). Paddock, the 2012 America East Defensive Player of the Year, was a tough as nails four year starter and is the type of player who is not easy to replace. Kapor, a 2012 All-America East First Team selection, was a playmaker who made good things happen and Vaeth was a solid holding midfielder with a great work ethic who made few mistakes. The Retrievers will miss the level of play and the leadership that they brought to the field.
Caringi III, the 2012 America East Striker of the Year, has been a force on the offensive side of the ball for UMBC for the past three seasons. All of which points to a very productive season in 2013 for Caringi III. He can score in multiples and has the skill to take over a game. In addition to Caringi III, the Retriever attack features senior Kadeem Dacres (5g, 3a), a 2012 All-America East Second Team selection, who can play up-top or as an outside midfielder. Sophomore Michael Scott (1g, 0a) from Scotland also figures prominently in the mix up top in 2013 and provides another option.
UMBC's midfield has the potential to be very good with a solid foundation returning led by crafty junior central midfielder Mamadou Kansaye (1g, 6a) and athletic junior Michael DiCesare (0g, 1a.) Sophomores Michael Burgos (2g, 0a) and Patrick Pato look to be in the hunt for a greater role in the midfield in 2013. Senior Travis Dennis (1g, 0a) and juniors Stephen Ho (1g, 3a), Joseph Glos (1g, 0a) and Zach Wenger and redshirt sophomore Corbin McCarron are among other returning players who will likely compete for a starting role. Transfers Ceaton Caltabiano and Malolm Harris are playmakers with big game experience who will add an additional offensive dimension to the UMBC midfield.
Junior center back Oumar Ballo (0g, 1a), a 2012 All-America East Second Team member, returns to anchor the backline. Ballo is a ball winner with the athleticism and the size to be a difference maker in the backline for the Retrievers. Junior Jordan Becker looks set to assume the left back role. Junior Spencer Williams returns at the right back position. Junior transfer Marquez Fernandez should compete for a starting role in the back.
Fifth year senior Phil Saunders, an All-America East 2012 Second Team selection, returns in goal. Saunders played every minute between the pipes last year and recorded a 0.72 goals against average and notched ten shutouts. Saunders, who was named the Most Outstanding Player of the America East Tournament, was particularly impressive during post season play when he continually came up with the big saves that his team needed him to make in order to survive and advance.
Coach Caringi appears to have a number of lineup options. That versatility looks to be a plus and should help keep fresh legs on the field. The Retrievers showed a lot of grit down the homestretch last year particularly on the defensive side of the ball after Caringi III sustained an injury in the America East Tourney that took a bite out of the Retriever offense.
The fact that Caringi III is now healthy means that UMBC will enter the 2013 season as an attack minded team. However, this is a group that should also be very effective on the defensive side of the ball. That balance, a little grit, and a hunger to build on the success of the 2012 season, may give the Retrievers the edge that they need to make 2013 a very special season.
Geaton Caltabiano - Midfielder - Lothian, Maryland - Mount St. Joseph - A junior transfer from Loyola. Was a Second Team All-MAAC selection in 2011. All-MIAA. Played with the Baltimore Bays.
Marquez Fernandez - Defender - Baltimore, Maryland - McDonogh - Junior transfer from the University of Maryland where he played in fifteen contests in 2011 and 2012. Baltimore Bays Chelsea Academy.
Malcolm Harris - Midfield - Damascus, Maryland - McDonogh - Sophomore transfer from the University of Denver. Played in twenty matches at Denver in 2012. Netted one goal and contributed five assists.
Phil Breno - Midfield/Goalkeeper - Mount Airy, Maryland - South Carroll - Second Team All-State. All-County. All-Conference. Plays for Potomac Academy.
Gregg Hauck - Midfield - Linthicum, Maryland - North County - First Team All-Metro. First Team All-State. Plays for Arundel Soccer Association.
Christian Morales - Midfield - Frederick, Maryland - Frederick High School - Has played for the Baltimore Bays for the past five seasons. Netted eight goals in the 2012 season.