College Sports

UMBC men’s soccer coach Pete Caringi Jr. to retire April 1 after 32 years at helm

In the roughly two hours on Tuesday since UMBC had announced Pete Caringi Jr.’s plan to retire as men’s soccer coach on April 1, Caringi’s phone had been flooded with more than 50 calls and texts from current and former players, supporters and others wishing him well.

Caringi said he was still in the midst of replying to each person.


“Literally, I’m amazed,” he said. “It’s coming in from all over. It’s overwhelming, to be honest with you.”

That response seems fitting considering Caringi’s impact with the Retrievers and the overall soccer community in and around Baltimore. He is the architect of a program that made its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament in 1999, qualified for four more postseasons and sent the 2014 squad to the school’s first Final Four.


Under Caringi, UMBC captured four America East Tournament championships and three regular-season titles, two Northeast Conference regular-season crowns and one tournament championship and one Big South regular-season title. He amassed a 320-204-81 record through 32 seasons.

Entering last season, Caringi ranked 17th among active coaches with 310 total wins and 39th with a .595 winning percentage. Incredibly, he never suffered losing campaigns in back-to-back years.

This past season was Caringi’s 32nd, making him the university’s longest-tenured coach of a single program. Caringi’s accomplishments and longevity will be hard to match. His impact on the program might be even greater.

“He is UMBC soccer,” said Taylor Calheira, a Towson resident and Concordia Prep graduate who completed his junior year as a forward for Caringi. “He’s put the school on the map, and everyone knows about UMBC soccer because of him. There’s just not much more he could have done at the school — getting to the Final Four, winning championships.”

At 67, Caringi said he feels energetic and healthy. But he said he had been considering retirement for a while.

“Times change, and it just seems like college sports in general have changed,” he said. “I just felt like it was time to retire and see what else is out there right now.”

Pete Caringi Jr. guided UMBC men's soccer to a 320-204-81 record, its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 1999 and its first Final Four in 2014.

Although the Retrievers finished last fall with a 10-6-2 overall record and a 4-3 mark in the America East and were upset by Binghamton, 3-2, in overtime of the conference tournament quarterfinals, Caringi was encouraged by the quality of players returning for next season and the team’s GPA of 3.46 – the highest by a men’s program at the university. By the same token, however, he thought those reasons made it appropriate for him to turn the reins over to associate head coach Anthony Adams and assistant coach Pete Caringi III, his son.

“I really felt like it’s better for me to turn it over when it’s in good shape instead of the opposite,” he said.


Caringi’s soccer roots began in Highlandtown where he grew up. He began playing soccer at 9 years old and then coaching soccer at 17 — both for Our Lady of Pompei Catholic Church. After leading the University of Baltimore to the 1975 NCAA title and graduating with the school’s all-time record for goals with 70, he signed with the Washington Diplomats of the North American Soccer League.

After guiding CCBC Essex to a 170-27-8 record from 1981-90 and appearances in the National Junior College championship game in 1984 and 1989, Caringi guided the Maryland Bays to the American Professional Soccer League title in 1990 and joined UMBC the following year.

Giuliano Celenza, who grew up in Highlandtown and has known Caringi since he was 3, transferred from CCBC Essex to play the 1999 and 2000 seasons for the Retrievers.

“Coach has meant a lot to me not only as a coach, but as a friend and mentor,” said Celenza, who still ranks as UMBC’s career leader in game-winning goals (17) and single-season leader in goals (22 in 1999) and points (54 in 1999). “I’ve built a great relationship with him, and for him to give me the opportunity that he gave me in college to go there and continue my playing days at UMBC has been amazing.”

This past season was UMBC men's soccer coach Pete Caringi Jr.’s 32nd, making him the university’s longest-tenured coach of a single program.

Since 1992, the Retrievers are 3-9-3 against big brother Maryland, but memorably upset the No. 4 seed Terps, 1-0, in the second round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament. Despite that outcome, Maryland coach Sasho Cirovski said he and Caringi are close.

“He’s one of these guys where when good things happen to me, he’s one of the first guys to call and congratulate me, and I’ve tried to reciprocate over the years,” Cirovski said. “He’s just a genuinely good human being who always had his heart in the right place and always did the right thing for the game of soccer and the Baltimore soccer community.”


On Monday, Caringi called a team meeting to inform the players of his decision to retire. It proved emotional for all parties.

“It was sad because that’s our coach,” Calheira said. “But at the same time, I know he’s been here for a long time and I know how much he has put into the program. I know he’s doing what’s best for him. So I’m proud of him.”

The upcoming fall will be Caringi’s first without coaching soccer. He said he is not the type to sit on a beach and stare into the ocean.

“I’ve never had a break,” he said. “I’ll probably be going to every college and high school game out there.”

Caringi said he plans to spend more time with his daughter and two grandchildren in Houston. He said he also will continue to work on projects to attract a professional soccer franchise to Baltimore and build a soccer-appropriate stadium.

After that? His calendar is wide open.


“If you ask me next week, I might be saying, ‘What the heck did I do?’” he quipped. “I miss it already, but I’ll move on and see what’s out there next.”