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UMBC hopes Harris helps finish Louisville in men's soccer tournament

UMBC hopes Harris helps finish Louisville in men's soccer tournament
Malcolm Harris (McDonogh) celebrates his goal in the 70th minute Sunday that beat Maryland, 1-0, in the second round of the NCAA men's soccer tournament. (Gail Burton, UMBC Athletics)

McDonogh graduate Malcolm Harris hasn't scored much in his time at UMBC. But when he has, he's made it count.

The junior midfielder scored two goals in two seasons with the Retrievers men's soccer team before he netted the game-winner in the 70th minute off a rebound save to lift UMBC, 1-0, over fourth-seeded Maryland on Nov. 23 and set up the Retrievers' first-ever appearance in the NCAA tournament third round.

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"I wasn't expecting Kay [Banjo] to miss, but I wanted to position myself in a place that if he did, then I was going to be there," Harris said Wednesday.

It's that mentality and finishing potential that his teammates and coaches want to see more of in Sunday's 6 p.m. match at 13th-seeded Louisville (11-7-3), the first-ever meeting between the schools in any sport. The Retrievers (13-5-4) are riding a season-high eight-game unbeaten streak.

"When he saw [Banjo] go and take a shot on goal ... other players, who might be lazy, [might] not make the same run," said senior midfielder Mamadou Kansaye, also a McDonogh grad. "He never gives up on the play, and as a result, we got a 1-0 win."

Ranked nationally as a top 40 recruit for the Class of 2012, Harris was a prolific scorer at McDonogh. He had hat tricks for the Eagles against Archbishop Spalding and Calvert Hall his senior year.

But with senior midfielder Geaton Caltabiano (Mount Saint Joseph) and junior forward Michael Scott rotating up top, Harris has spent most of his time at UMBC playing wide or back.

Harris' strong technical skills make him versatile, Retrievers coach Pete Caringi said. Caringi added he is confident Harris "is capable of scoring way more goals than he has."

The midfielder got his first chance to play inthe attacking third this season as part of an experimental reshuffling against Delaware in September. UMBC pulled out a 1-0 win, but Harris was moved back to play wide.

Then Caltabiano was injured and sat out three games in late October and early November. So Harris got his second opportunity to shoot more, just as the team headed into playoffs, and it paid off when he scored the go-ahead goal to beat Maryland, a team that had defeated the Retrievers in every men's soccer match since 2000.

"All of a sudden, he feels comfortable out on the field," Caringi said of Harris. "He's comfortable and he's confident, and when those two ingredients run for a player, you're going to see better results."

At Louisville Sunday, Harris also could be part of a midfield and backline that will look to contain freshman midfielder Tim Kubel, who scored in the 87th minute to hoist the Cardinals to a 2-1 win over St. Louis last Sunday. Kubel leads Louisville with seven goals and is tied with junior forward Ricardo Velazco (six goals) in assists with five each.

Harris isn't too worried, though. UMBC has outscored its opponents by an average of 1.6 to .91 goals per game, compared to the Cardinals' 1.48 to 1.

"If our front four can attack and put pressure on the other team just as we did to Maryland in the second half, I don't think many teams in the country can handle that," Harris said.

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