Tuesday night’s men’s soccer game between UMBC and Delaware at Retriever Soccer Park could be an entertaining show for fans -- and an exhaustive exercise for the goalkeepers.
The two teams are ranked in the top four in Division I in goals per game this season. The Blue Hens, who are 7-1-0 and got votes in the most recent Continental Tire/National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll, are tied for first in the country with a 2.9 goal-per-game average, while the No. 11 Retrievers (9-0-0) are fourth with a 2.8 average.
“It should be a high-powered offensive match,” UMBC coach Pete Caringi Jr. said Monday. “A lot of people are looking forward to it because at one point, we were [No.] 1 and now we’re [No.] 4 and they’re [No.] 1. Both teams like to go to the goal, and if you like a wide-open game, [tonight] should be one of those games that you enjoy watching.”
The Retrievers have scored 25 goals thus far, which is second only to the 27 goals that Cal Poly has scored in 10 games. Delaware is tied for third with 23 goals.
Sometimes games pitting two high-scoring offenses can bog down into a defensive standoff due to a concerted effort by both sides to keep goals off the scoreboard. But Caringi Jr. said he doesn’t think that will happen Tuesday night.
“I think with both teams, it’s just our style,” he said. “I know we played them in a scrimmage two years ago in the spring, and it was 3-3. They have a lot of really good attack-minded players. Their philosophy is very similar to ours. So I think we have that on both sides, and the reality is there should be a lot of chances. The other day when we played GW [George Washington on Saturday night], we won 2-1, but if you looked at the tape, we had a lot of chances that just didn’t go in.”
In addition to that storyline, both teams also boast the top goal scorers in the nation. UMBC senior forward Pete Caringi III and Blue Hens freshman midfielder Guillermo Delgado have each scored nine goals.
Delgado will draw the usual amount of attention from the Retrievers, but Caringi Jr. said the defense does not have any special plans.
“I think you just have to be very aware of him,” Caringi Jr. said. “One of the things that we won’t do, when a lot of teams played against Pete in the last couple weeks, they’ve done just about everything they can to stop him. We’ll be aware of him, but we don’t have anything special for him. We like to play straight-up. In the back, [junior] Oumar Ballo from [Archbishop] Curley, I think he’s one of the best backs in the country. So I think it’s a real test for our defense. And [with junior back] Marquez Fernandez, that’s two local kids that will be aware of where he is on the field, but we’re not going to do anything special. I think he’s a really good, talented player. So we’ll be aware of him, but we’re not going to do anything like teams have done against Pete where they’ve physically tried to take him out of a game or at times have put two players against him.”