BALTIMORE— For the second time in school history, the UMBC men's soccer program will compete in the NCAA Division I Championships as the Retrievers advanced, 5-4, in penalty kicks in the America East Conference title game after playing visiting New Hampshire to a 0-0 scoreless draw.
The second-seeded Retrievers (11-4-3) and fifth- seeded Wildcats (9-5-6) played 110 minutes of scoreless soccer, necessitating the penalty kicks. After both teams converted their opening kicks, UMBC junior goalkeeper Dan Louisignau (Wilmington, Del./Concord/Virginia) made a diving save to his right on an attempt by UNH's Joe Corsello.
The next three shooters for each squad converted, leaving it up to UMBC senior midfielder John Paul Waraksa (Media, Pa./Strath Haven) with the shootout knotted at 4-4. The Retriever captain placed his shot inside the left post, setting off a wild celebration from the Retriever players and partisan crowd at UMBC Soccer Stadium.
"This is a very confident team, "Head Coach Pete Caringi, Jr. said . "We played a lot of good teams on the road and won games at Bucknell and Penn State. It shows that we can play with anybody if we play our game. We are looking forward to playing in the tournament."
Senior forward Levi Houapeu (Germantown, Md./Watkins Mill) was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. He scored two goals in the semifinals vs. Stony Brook on Wednesday and was the game's most dangerous player in the finals. Warkasa, senior captain Chris Williams (Baltimore, Md./Calvert Hall) and junior midfielder Andrew Bulls (Millersville, Md./McDonogh) were also selected to the All- Championship team.
UMBC previously went to the NCAA's in 1999, after winning the Northeast Conference Tournament and advancing in penalty kicks over Lafayette in an NCAA Play-In game. The Retrievers, who owned the country's best record at 19-1-1 in that season, lost, 4-3, in overtime at top- seeded Duke.
The Retrievers will learn of their first-round opponent in the NCAA Tournament on Monday, Nov. 15 at 4:30 p.m., when the bracket will be revealed on ESPNU.
The game pitted the league's top offense of UMBC against the best defense in UNH. The Wildcats bottled UMBC up for most of the contest. The Retrievers outshot UNH, 11-9, overall but neither goalkeeper faced stern tests on net. Both Louisignau and UNH First Team All-Conference netminder Colin O'Donnell made four saves apiece.
The Retriever netminder improved to 9-1-2 on the season and recorded his fourth shutout.
The two teams had played to a scoreless draw during the regular season on Oct. 9 in Durham, N.H.
The Retrievers are now 7-1-3 in their last 11 outings heading into the NCAA Championships.