For the the third time in four years, the UMBC men's soccer team experienced the heart break of having their season end on penalty kicks in the NCAA tournament.
The loss Sunday to Connecticut in the second round was especially painful because the Retrievers had twice fought back from deficits to force overtime. The loss also ended one of the most successful seasons in program history.
With the game tied 2-2 at the end of the second overtime and temperatures dipping below 29 degrees, the Huskies prevailed 4-2 in the shootout and will play the winner of top-seeded UCLA and Elon on Sunday. For UMBC coach Pete Caringi, it was another bitter end to an otherwise successful campaign.
"I thought it was a great game," Caringi said. "I'm proud of how we responded, down a goal both times to tie it. I thought we had the better end of the game. We're extremely disappointed. There are kids in that room crying. The nature of the game to lose on penalty kicks ... you win some, you lose some. The best players in the world have been in that situation where they missed a penalty kick."
Despite being a higher seed, the Retrievers (16-1-2) were facing a dangerous Connecticut team, which was unbeaten in its past 15 games. The Huskies were aggressive and were only the second teams to score more than a goal against UMBC this season.
After a scoreless first half, the game opened up as both teams began to find space through the midfield.
The Huskies (12-2-6), however, came out aggressively in the second half and took the lead in the 47th minute when Sergio Campbell played a long ball into the penalty area that was picked up by Mamadou Doudou Diouf between a couple of UMBC defenders. Diouf then made a short cross to Cyle Larin, who slid the ball just under UMBC goalie Phil Saunders (Perry Hall).
UMBC pushed players forward and finally broke through in the 62nd minute when Geaton Caltabiano (Mount St. Joseph) tied the game when he took a short pass from Mamadou Kansaye (McDonogh) on an indirect kick and fired inside the far post.
"I thought UMBC worked hard," Connecticut coach Ray Reid said. "They are certainly dangerous in the open field and very good on re-starts. It was no easy task to come down here and beat them."
Diouf then provided the spark for the Huskies again, scoring on a header off a corner kick from Adria Beso. The Retrievers refused to go away and Pete Caringi III (Calvert Hall) tied the game again off a corner kick from Kansaye in the 77th minute.
Saunders, who tied a season-high with seven saves, had several big stops in the final minutes to keep the game tied and send the teams into overtime.
"It's always tough to end the game on PKs," Saunders said. "But, it's part of the game so you have to live with it. You just have to be mentally prepared."
In the shootout, Colin Bradley, Larin, Diouf and Beso each scored for the Huskies. Kansaye and Caltabiano each scored for UMBC. Huskies goalie Andre Blake made saves against Caringi and Kadeem Dacres. Saunders stopped Juho Karppinen.
The Retrievers also lost on penalty kicks to William and Mary in 2010 and North Carolina last season.
"I've been doing this a long time and I haven't been around a group of players that when they go on the field, they believe they are going to win," Caringi said. "I really believe they're one of the best teams in the country."
NCAA Second Round
UMBC 2, 2 OT
(Connecticut advances 4-2 on penalty kicks)