UMBC soccer falls to No. 16 seed Virginia in College Cup semifinal, 1-0, ending dream season
Dec 12, 2014 | 9:40 PM
CARY, N.C. —The UMBC men's soccer team captured the attention of the college soccer community and the adoration of its fans.
But on a chilly Friday night at WakeMed Soccer Park, all the Retrievers could do was soak in cheers of appreciation from supporters as their season reached a harsh conclusion.
UMBC's storybook run through the NCAA Division I tournament ended in the College Cup semifinals, with an early goal the difference in a 1-0 loss to No. 16 seed Virginia.
The Retrievers had to play catch-up for most of the game but couldn't produce an equalizer despite constant offensive pressure in the second half. They hadn't trailed during the tournament until Friday.
“I think we were a little shocked by the goal,” UMBC coach Pete Caringi said.
Forward Darius Madison scored 4:09 into the game for the Cavaliers, who benefited from a turnover. Virginia (13-6-3) improved to 8-4 all time in College Cup semifinals.
Unseeded UMBC finished with a 14-6-5 record and saw its 10-game unbeaten streak end.
After the Retrievers were unable to find a tying goal, they gathered in front of their fans for a rousing send-off.
Senior defender Jordan Becker said the Retrievers will fondly remember one of the school's most significant athletic accomplishments.
“It's not easy to see right now,” he said. “We know we proved a lot of people wrong to get this far.”
Forward Kay Banjo (Towson University), midfielder Michael Scott and defender Spencer Williams all had shots in the second half for UMBC, but none were on the mark.
“We just didn't put them away,” Banjo said of the opportunities to score.
Virginia goalkeeper Calle Brown continually came up in the right position to thwart the Retrievers, though he was credited with just one save. He posted his second shutout in four tournament games and his ninth overall this season.
With an airtight back line, UMBC conquered national powers Wake Forest, Maryland, Louisville and Creighton along the way to the NCAA semifinals, but Virginia proved to be as stingy on defense, particularly after taking the lead.
“Tactically, we had to adjust,” Caringi said. “I think once the game settled down, we had better chances. ... In the second half, we really took it to them and continued to attack.”
UMBC had several encouraging second-half chances, but an offside call with less than 20 minutes to go stymied one. A little later, Banjo set up Scott for a shot, but he couldn't convert.
In the end, UMBC's 9-2 advantage in corner kicks didn't make a difference.
“They didn't get here by accident,” Virginia coach George Gelnovatch said. “In a lot of ways, they are like us.”
Except the Cavaliers have another game to play.
Virginia led 1-0 at halftime on Madison's goal, marking the earliest goal UMBC allowed in a game this season and the quickest Virginia scored this year.
Madison's shot came beat goalkeeper Billy Heavner, who was unable to make the stop as the shot headed to the far post.
The goal was Madison's fourth of the season and allowed Virginia to lead at halftime for just the fourth time this season.
“It has really been a strange year,” Gelnovatch said. “We win differently.”
Virginia's goal was the first UMBC had allowed in its five NCAA tournament games. Dating to 2010, the Retrievers hadn't allowed a postseason goal in regulation in 793 straight minutes.
The Retrievers, the first team in tournament history to reach the semifinals by advancing through four road games, had one shot on goal in the opening 45 minutes. UMBC defender Oumar Ballo (Archbishop Curley) had a chance midway through the first half with a header off a corner kick, but the ball sailed wide of goal.
Notes: Virginia is now 5-0 all time against UMBC. Friday's meeting marked the teams' first in the postseason and first outside of Charlottesville, Va. ... Heavner received the Elite 89 award at Thursday night's College Cup banquet. The NCAA award recognizes a player at the national championship level who has achieved the highest academic standard. Heavner is a redshirt sophomore majoring in financial economics. ... UMBC senior midfielder Mamadou Kansaye (McDonogh) played his freshman season in 2010 for nearby North Carolina State. N.C. State has been the host school for past College Cups in Cary, though Campbell is hosting this weekend's competition.