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UMBC men's soccer wins America East, earns NCAA tournament berth

UMBC men's soccer wins America East, earns NCAA tournament berth
UMBC men's soccer coach Pete Caringi talks to his team during half time during a game against Binghamton. (Sarah Pastrana / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Gregg Hauck scored in the 76th minute, giving top-seeded UMBC a 2-1 comeback victory over No. 2 Hartford in the America East Championship Game Saturday night at Retriever Soccer Park.

The Retrievers will represent the America East in the NCAA tournament. UMBC will learn its seeding on Monday.

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Hauck dribbled the ball and tapped it into the net from 18 yards out for the unassisted goal, giving UMBC its first lead of the night. It was Hauck's second goal of the season, following his score in the Retrievers' semifinal win over Vermont on Wednesday.

When the 90 minutes were up, UMBC fans and students stormed the field and celebrated with the players at midfield.

"It's an amazing experience," said Hauck, who was named the conference tournament Most Valuable Player following the game. "I just did it for the seniors; I didn't want this to be their last game with this team."

The win gave the Retrievers (12-5-3) three straight America East tournament championships, including four in the past five seasons. UMBC became just the second team in conference history to win three consecutive league titles, after Boston University won five in a row from 1993 to 1997.

The win also gave the Retrievers the second-most titles in conference history, behind only Boston University's seven.

The Retrievers found themselves down 1-0 in the 38th minute, when Udi Cohen fired a shot that hit the cross bar and deflected back to teammate Jeff Tryon, who poked the ball into the goal to give the Hawks (11-6-2) the early lead.

In the 63rd minute, Becker threaded a pass to Oumar Ballo (Archbishop Curley), who knocked a header past outstretched goalie David Mackinnon to put the Retrievers on the board.

"In the first half, we came out a little too soft," Ballo said. "In the second half, we put the pedal to the metal. We put our foot on the gas and never took it off."

UMBC nearly gave the lead right back a minute later, when Tryon fired a shot that goalkeeper Billy Heavner stopped.

The Retrievers had an excellent scoring opportunity in the 54th minute when Kay Banjo, the Retrievers' leading scorer this season and former Towson Tiger, drilled a shot toward the goal that was deflected by a leaping Mackinnon.

UMBC is unbeaten in its past 25 games against conference foes (including playoffs), an America East record. The Retrievers are also undefeated in their past 16 home games.

The Retrievers are also the second team in league history to win regular season and tournament titles in back-to-back years, after Boston University achieved the feat from 1993 to 1994.

"I'm really proud of this group," said coach Pete Caringi, in his 24th year. "We've got a lot of seniors, and they wanted to go out on a great note."

UMBC had a handful of scoring opportunities early, including a shot by Malcolm Harris that was blocked in the 17th minute.

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the crossbar.

Mackinnon finished with five saves, while Heavner stopped one shot.

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