UMBC drops Mount, gets top seed in NEC; 3-1 victory extends unbeaten streak to 18; College Soccer


All game, the UMBC men's soccer team provided unsolvable riddles for Mount St. Mary's on offense and defense, walking away with a 3-1 win and the Northeast Conference regular-season title.

In front of 1,500 at UMBC's soccer field, Giuliano Celenza provided two goals and one assist and Ty Engram had a goal and an assist for the Retrievers, who earned the top seed in this weekend's conference tournament in Catonsville. The win extended UMBC's unbeaten streak to 18 and ended the Mount's 10-game unbeaten string.

When the tournament opens on Friday, UMBC (17-0-1, 9-0-1) will play St. Francis, N.Y., and Mount St. Mary's (10-6-2, 8-1-1) will face Fairleigh Dickinson.

"There's a lot of self-satisfaction [from being the No. 1 seed in the conference]," UMBC coach Pete Caringi said. "But the one thing we've stressed from the beginning has been that this weekend is when we need to play our best soccer."

Said Celenza: "It's a great feeling to go undefeated, but we're not happy yet. The big thing is next weekend."

In a grinding first half, Celenza and Engram provided most of the excitement on a series of breakaways.

In the 12th minute, midfielder Matt Joseph passed to Engram, who was able to dribble to the deep right corner of the Mount defense, partly because of the absence of freshman defender Danny Dawson (out with an eye injury) . Engram crossed the ball left to Celenza in the middle of the area, leading to a successful kick past Rob Ray for a 1-0 lead 11: 23 into the game.

"Celenza was deadly," Mount St. Mary's coach Mark Mettrick said of the UMBC junior, whose second goal in the 63rd minute broke Tom Brooks' 1970 record for goals in a season with 21. "His touch inside the box was just superb."

It was the first time the Mountaineers had trailed since an Oct. 8 win at Monmouth. They answered in the next minute, when defender Niall Lepper scored on a header from a corner kick by forward Greg Forte, with 12: 49 elapsed.

UMBC retaliated, though, with Celenza stealing a pass from from Lepper and making a pass right into Engram's path as he streaked down the middle of field -- just he and Ray -- before floating the ball over Ray's head for the game-winner in the 25th minute.

With a 2-1 lead heading into halftime, Caringi said he was concerned about the team defense, which had given up the third-fewest goals of any team in Division I (0.43 a game), but had given up Lepper's goal and nearly yielded a couple of others like it.

"Our defense was the one thing that surprised me, because in the first 15 minutes, they looked shaky," Caringi said. "At halftime, we stressed the fact that we needed to play good team defense."

UMBC did exactly that in the second half, turning what Mettrick called an even game into one the Retrievers clearly dominated, preventing successful Mount attacks in the final third of the field.

Mettrick, whose team entered last week with the league lead, said: "We'll learn some things from this game, especially with five freshmen on the field."

Goals: MSM--Lepper; UMBC--Celenza 2, Engram. Assists: MSM--Forte; MSM--Celenza, Engram, Gormley. Saves: MSM--Ray 3; UMBC--Rowland. Half: UMBC, 2-1.

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