UMBC upsets Maryland, 1-0, to advance in NCAA men's soccer tournament

The Baltimore Sun
With Malcolm Harris' goal in the 70th minute, UMBC shocked Maryland in men's soccer.

When the final whistle blew Sunday night, hundreds of UMBC fans leapt over the Ludwig Field fence, flooded the grass, and mobbed the celebrating Retrievers men's soccer team.

On the other half of the field, many Maryland players covered their heads with their jerseys.

UMBC's 1-0 win against No. 4-seeded Maryland in the second round of the NCAA tournament was the team's first victory against the Terps since 2000, setting up the program's first-ever appearance in the third round.

"Obviously, that's one of the biggest wins in our school history," said Retrievers coach Pete Caringi Jr., who is in his 24th year as coach and often has been on the losing end of matchups against Maryland.

UMBC midfielder Malcolm Harris (McDonogh) scored the game-winning goal off a rebound in the 70th minute. And when goalkeeper Billy Heavner grabbed the loose ball in the six-yard box with 10 seconds left, Retrievers fans erupted in cheers before storming the Terps' home field.

The result also broke Maryland's 12-year unbeaten streak in the NCAA tournament second round.

"Needless to say, we're extremely gutted," Terps coach Sasho Cirovski said.

UMBC was 2-12-2 all-time against the Terps entering the game, with their last meeting ending in a scoreless draw Sept. 5 at Ludwig Field. The result was a part of a tough September for the Retrievers, as they went 2-4-2 in the month.

But the Retrievers (13-5-4) have improved since then, and they entered Sunday's game on a seven-game unbeaten streak. UMBC beat Wake Forest in a penalty shootout Thursday in Winston-Salem, N.C., to advance to the second round and set up another matchup against the state's — and one of the nation's — premier soccer programs.

"Obviously, we have a lot of respect for Maryland and their coaching staff and everything they've done with college soccer," Caringi said. "But our kids, this is our third year of being in this round."

The Retrievers will play at No. 13 Louisville on Nov. 30 for a spot in the NCAA quarterfinals.

The Terps controlled most of the possession in the first half, but it took 14 minutes to unleash their first shot on goal. Midfielder Mael Corboz, the Terps' leading scorer, fired a driven free kick from the left wing that was punched away by Heavner. Seven minutes later, Heavner corralled Corboz's free kick from just outside the 18-yard box.

Kay Banjo, UMBC's leading scorer, didn't have the ball much during the first half, and the forward's two shots were well off target. After a scoreless first half, Banjo — the America East Conference's Striker of the Year — led a Retrievers offense that dominated the second half.

"We didn't come out with greater energy in the second half," Cirovski said. "We had momentum. We had the good opportunities, and I don't have an answer as to why we didn't come out with more energy."

UMBC broke through in the 70th minute when Harris found Banjo in space on the right side of the box. Though Maryland goalkeeper Zack Steffen saved the resulting shot, the ball rolled toward Harris, who converted the rebound to give the Retrievers a 1-0 lead.

"We know Kay's a danger man, so when Kay shot, I was like, 'just follow it up. Maybe it'll come to you. Maybe you'll get a lucky bounce,'" Harris said. "I was in the right spot at the right time, and I just got the shot."

Maryland ramped up the pressure in the final 20 minutes, and its best chance to tie the game came in the 85th minute when forward Jeroen Meefout's header off of a free kick landed wide of the far post.

Harris said he didn't realize the significance of Sunday's victory until Heavner held the ball in his hands with the final seconds winding down. At that point, the UMBC fans were outside the fence of Ludwig Field waiting to join him and his teammates in celebrating a historic win.

"We finally came down here and won," Harris said. "There's a lot of people who didn't pick us to win, and that's just the thing. We wanted to prove everyone wrong, and proving everyone wrong makes you feel a lot better."

ppierrelouis@baltsun.com

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