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UMBC 2014 Team and Recruiting Class Review

Team – UMBC
Conference – America East
Coach – Pete Caringi, Jr. (24th Season)
Background –  The Retrievers had a banner season in 2013 recording a 16-1-3 overall record with a 5-0-2 mark in conference play.  UMBC won the America East regular season title and won the conference tournament and the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament that goes with it for the third time in the last four seasons.  The sixteen wins for UMBC was the most since the program earned fifteen wins in 2000. The Retrievers earned a first round bye in the NCAA Tournament and played Connecticut to a 2-2 double overtime tie before coming out on the short end of a penalty kick shootout.  UMBC ended the season ranked by the NSCAA and by College Soccer News as the number fourteen team in the country.  Forward Pete Caringi III was an NSCAA First Team All-America selection and a College Soccer News Second Team All-America selection. Defender Oumar Ballo was an NSCAA Second Team All-America selection and midfielder Kadeem Dacres was named an NSCAA Third Team All-American.  Coach Pete Caringi, Jr. was honored by the NSCAA as the Northeast Regional Coach of the Year and the UMBC coaching staff was named the America East Conference Coaching Staff of the Year.     
Offense –  The conversation on the offensive side of the ball has to begin with the fact that UMBC will be without All-American forward and 2012 and 2013 America East Striker of the Year Pete Caringi III who scored twenty-seven goals over the past two seasons and finished his tenure as a Retriever with thirty-seven goals. For the past two seasons Carngi has been the tone setter and UMBC has relied heavily on him for offensive production. The graduation of center midfielder Kadeem Dacres (7g, 4a) who was an NSCAA Second Team All-American and the 2013 America East Midfielder of the Year also leaves some very big shoes to fill.  The additon of senior Kay Banjo who played at Towson University from 2010 through 2012 should add offensive firepower up-top.  Banjo was a First Team All-CAA selection in 2012, a Third Team All-CAA selection in 2011.and a Second Team All-CAA selection in 2010.  Senior Geaton Caltabiano (4g, 8a) will operate in the attacking midfielder role in 2014.  Look for Caltabiano to play a greater role in the attack and to be the catalyst on the offensive side of the ball.  Senior captain Mamadou Kansaye (3g, 7a) will operate as a holding midfielder and will set the pace for the entire team. Senior midfielder Stephen Ho (2g, 3a) and junior midfielder Malcom Harris (1g, 2a) are among other returning players who should be actively involved in the attack in 2014. Senior forwards Michael Scott (1g, 0a) and Joseph Glos, senior midfielders Michael DiCesare and Zach Wenger and junior midfielders Patrick Pato and Michael Burgos are among other returning players who will likely seek to play a greater role in 2014. 
Defense –  The backline should be a team strength.  Four senior starters return from a backline that only allowed a total of fifteen goals last year.  Senior center back Oumar Ballo, the 2013 America East Defender of the Year, is a lock down defender and the backbone of the back line.  He will be joined by Marquez Fernandez (3g, 0a) who was a 2013 All-America East Second Team selection, right back Spencer Williams (0g, 1a) who has two years of starting experience under his belt and left back Jordan Becker (2g, 4a) who is also very capable of adding an additional dimension to the attack.  The Retrievers do have a vital gap to fill in goal due to the graduation of Phil Saunders, a 2013 All America East Second Team member, who has pretty much been a fixture between the pipes for UMBC since arriving on campus as a freshman. Redshirt sophomore Billy Heavner from Landisville, Pennsylvania and redshirt freshman Phil Breno from Mount Airy, Maryland are battling for the starting job in goal. Both had solid spring seasons.   

Newcomers – 

Kay Banjo – Forward – Upper Marlboro, Maryland – Largo High School – A transfer from Towson University which discontinued its soccer program after the 2012 season. First Team All-CAA in 2012.  Scored a total of fifteen goals and eleven assists during three seasons at Towson.

Todd Morton – Goalkeeper – West Chester, Pennsylvania – Henderson HIgh School – Played club with the Penn Fusion Soccer Academy.  Recorded fourteen shutouts and a 0.77 gaa his senior season.  First Team All-Chestmone and All-Area.

Cormac Noel – Forward – Chesterfield, England – Ryburn Valley High – Played for Chesterfield FC Youth Academy.

Kennedy O'Shea – Forward – South Riding, Virginia – Paul VI Catholic High School – Sophomore transfer from Coastal Carolina where he appeared in three games last year.  All-State selection.  Played for DC United Academy U-16 and U-18. 

Prognosis for 2014 – Eight starters and twenty-three letter winners return but Caringi must do some retooling to replace forward Peter Caringi III, midfielder Kadeem Dacres, and goalkeeper Phil Saunders.  While there are unanswered questions regarding offensive productivity up-top and a new face will be in goal, the midfield and the backline will be very talented and experienced.  Transfer Kay Banjo may prove to be the X-Factor up-top.  Seniors Geaton Caltabiano and Mamadou Kansaye should be a formidable duo in the center of the park.  The backline led by All-American Oumar Ballo and Marquez Fernandez has the potential to be among the best in the country. Lack of depth could prove to be a problem as the season progresses particularly if there are injuries. It also remains to be seen how hungry this team will be in 2014 for continued success. Experience is a good thing but complanceny is always a potential problem when there are a lot of seniors in the starting lineup. All things considered this is a team that should once again be very competitive in 2014. Clearly they will be the team to beat in the Amercia East. Based on the level of talent returning supported by the success the program enjoyed last year, the Retrievers will likely begin the season with a national ranking.  Their 2014 schedule includes five teams that were in the NCAA Tournament in 2013 but as a member of a mid-major conference it is a fact of life that the margin for error is very small in terms of national standing which means that it is highly likely that a loss or two would send them tumbling downward in the national rankings.  UMBC is not a flash-in the-pan program. They have earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament three out of the last four seasons and were ranked in the top ten by just about everyone during portions of the 2014 season.  This is a program that has moved from the category of hunter to hunted. Whether or not they can sustain that remains to be seen.  However, in the meantime it seems foolish to underestimate them.       


Posted in 2014 Team Reviews

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