Tournament Most Outstanding Player, UMBC senior forward Pete Caringi III(Perry Hall, Md./Calvert Hall) scored a pair of goals, leading the top-seeded and sixth-ranked Retrievers to a 4-0 victory over Hartford in the America East Championship game.
The Retrievers, who lead the nation in winning percentage, (16-1-2) earn America East's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament for the third time in the last four years. This season marks the first time that UMBC captured the league's regular season and championship title.
UMBC will learn of its seeding in the NCAA Tournament during the NCAA Men's Soccer Selection Show on Monday at noon.
"We're a very confident group… we're looking forward to seeing who we are going to play on Monday," said head coach Pete Caringi, Jr. "All along, our goal has been to win the America East and go as far as we can go. Last year, we were excited about playing in the NCAA Tournament, now we want to go farther."
Hartford started the game brightly, and nearly too an early lead when midfielder Aleko Petridis hit the post in the 9th minute from the top of the box. But that seemed to awaken UMBC and the Retrievers would score just 51 seconds later.
Junior back Jordan Becker (Pocomoke, Md./Pocomoke) drove down the left side and crossed a ball into the box. It deflected off a Hartford defender and Caringi headed the redirect past UH goalkeeper David McKinnon from seven yards away.
Caringi would have two more chances in the first half, but missed one wide and McKinnon came up with a stop on the other attempt.
UMBC led, 1-0, at the half, but junior back Oumar Ballo (Baltimore, Md./Archbishop Curley) scored just 3:59 into the second half to double the Retriever advantage. Junior midfielderGeaton Caltabiano (Lothian, Md./Mount St. Joseph) struck a corner kick toward the near post. Caringi got onto it and flicked it towards the far right post, where Ballo headed it home from close range.
Caringi tallied his second goal of the game and league-leading 12th of the season in the 57th minute to put the contest out of reach. Sophomore midfielder Malcolm Harris (Damascus, Md./McDonogh) bent in a corner from the right side, and the ball skidded off the turf and to a waiting Caringi, who headed it beyond McKinnon and inside the far left post.
Junior midfielder Mamadou Kansaye (Baltimore, Md./McDonogh) finalized the scoring by converting a penalty kick in the 86th minute. Junior midfielder Stephen Ho (North Potomac, Md./Wootton) was taken down in the box and the Retriever captain drilled home the ensuing penalty kick.
UMBC outshot Hartford, 19-7, and Saunders made two saves to record his 24th career shutout. Saunders has not allowed a goal in his last four America East Tournament games.
Notes: UMBC becomes the first repeat America East champion since 1997 and is just second program in conference history to win 3 titles in 4 years…The Retrievers are the first No. 1 seed to win tournament since 2008… Caringi's five points and two goals tied a single game tournament record… Caringi, who scored eight goals in his first four games in 2013, seven-game goal-scoring drought with the two-goal effort and now has nine career multiple-goal efforts… UMBC's 16 victories stands alone as the second-most in school history… The 1999 team won a school-record 19 games.