UMBC’s Pete Caringi III and Loyola’s Larry Ndjock can enjoy a certain status as being among the top three in Division I men’s soccer in scoring goals. Caringi, a senior, is tied with Delaware freshman midfielder Guillermo Delgado for the national lead in goals (eight), while Ndjock, a sophomore, is tied with Cal State Northridge junior forward Sagi Lev-Ari with seven goals each.
The flipside, however, is that both Caringi and Ndjock are known commodities in the soccer community, and opposing defenses will spend a fair amount of time studying the forwards’ strengths and weaknesses.
Those defenders will also do anything to knock Caringi and Ndjock off their games. Caringi said he has noticed that opposing defensive players are resorting to little tricks to slow him down.
“Just trying to get into your head and trying to do little things like that here and there,” he said. “Grabbing, holding, kicking. But just staying disciplined in everything is all you can really do. You can’t do anything dumb.”
Pete Caringi Jr., who coaches his son with the rest of the Retrievers squad, said one defender on a team that he declined to identify went beyond the limits of reasonable play.
“It’s one thing to be aware of where he is. The other is being not even borderline dirty, but dirty in one of the games,” the elder Caringi said. “It was how they were fouling him, spitting on him. It wasn’t a good day for soccer, but I think it’s part of the newfound respect that people have for him. Obviously, you don’t want to see that in games.”
Ndjock has also felt a shift in defenders’ tactics against him.
“The game where I noticed that most was against Quinnipiac [on Sept. 11] where the center back kept bumping me and kept being very physical and very aggressive,” Ndjock said. “I guess I have to get used to it. I’m going to have to expect that in the Patriot League as well because the Patriot League is full of very physical teams and very aggressive teams. I have to get used to it. I cannot lose my head. I have to focus on my game and just shake it off and keep playing and do what I do best.”
Greyhounds coach Mark Mettrick acknowledged that he is worried that Ndjock, who is two yellow cards away from serving a mandatory one-game suspension, may lose his cool if an opponent gets especially aggressive.
“He’s very passionate and very emotional, and that’s what makes him good. But I think the more success he has, defenders will try to get in his heads a little bit, and he has to expect that they’re going to try to do things off the ball or be physical with him to try to get him off his game,” Mettrick said. “I think one of the keys for him is understanding what that is and trying to make it better rather than taking him out of his game. That hit was completely off the ball. It was like football. The ball was going somewhere else, the other player saw that he was going to make a run, and from behind him, he hit him, and the referee didn’t see it. He’s going to have to expect that.”