After the UMBC women's soccer team captured its first America East regular-season championship and collected its first conference tournament win with a 2-0 decision against Hartford Sunday, is it any surprise that the top-seeded Retrievers are feeling confident about winning their first tournament crown?
“I told the team today that we are a train, and we are heading towards that America East tournament championship, and nothing’s going to stop us,” coach Leslie Wray said after UMBC had disposed of the fourth-seeded Hawks. “The seniors said it from the get-go. We can win this league, we can do it, and each time, we’re responding. We’re doing it, and we’re doing what we’ve set out to do. We’ve put our goals, and we’re reaching it. … We try to make it just like any other game. You can see on the field that it’s not. But we’ve stepped up positive and our response is positive. So it’s great.”
Wray is not alone in her stance.
“I think we have the right attitude, the right mindset,” said junior defender Morgan Taylor, a Severna Park native and graduate. “I really think that. We have everything to do that. We just need one more game, 90 minutes.”
UMBC has already established a program record for single-season wins with 12 victories against five losses and two ties and is poised to make its first appearance in the NCAA tournament. This year’s success is uncharted territory for Wray and the players.
“Everything is first for us,” Wray said. “If I look at my own career, this is probably one of the biggest games, and I think it’s a first for me as well. We’re all kind of going through this together, and having a season like this and having so much success, everything’s brand-new. It’s brand-new for me, it’s brand-new for the players. But we’ve never deterred from what our main goal is.”
There’s still the little matter of winning the tournament championship, which won’t be easy if No. 2 seed Stony Brook (12-5-1) has a say in Saturday’s 7 p.m. final at Retriever Soccer Park in Catonsville.
“Since we came into this program, this is what we’ve been waiting for,” senior goalkeeper Lauren Kadet said. “This is what we’ve been working so hard for. In our freshman and sophomore years and even last year, we worked so hard and didn’t get the results we wanted. And now our whole team is on the same page, our whole team has the best chemistry we’ve ever had here and we’re finally getting the results.”