BALTIMORE – UMBC red-shirt freshman midfielder Gregg Hauck’s (Linthicum, Md./North County) goal with 14:22 remaining propelled the Retrievers to a 2-1 victory over visiting Hartford in the America East Conference Championship contest. The Retrievers became the second league squad to win three consecutive championships and earned the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in five seasons.
“I’m really proud of this group, it’s a lot of seniors that wanted to go out on a great note,” said head coach Pete Caringi. “It’s a testament to soccer here in this town that ten players from the state of Maryland start and we had a great run.”
Hauck was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. He scored his first collegiate goal to tie the score versus Vermont in the semi-finals on Wednesday.
Second-seeded Hartford (11-6-2) had the better of the play in the first half and were rewarded when forward Jeff Tryon knocked in a rebound of an Udi Cohen shot which hit the crossbar in the 38th minute.
But top-seeded UMBC (12-5-3), which extended its season-long winning streak to six, roared out of the locker room and halftime and put intense pressure on the Hawks. Senior midfielder Stephen Ho (North Potomac, Md./Wootton) hit the crossbar in the 50th minute and senior forward Kay Banjo (Upper Marlboro, Md./Largo) sent the rebound wide.
Finally, UMBC broke through in the 62nd minute, as senior back Oumar Ballo (Baltimore, Md./Archbishop Curley) glanced a Jordan Becker (Pocomoke, Md./Pocomoke) cross off his body from eight yards out.
The Retrievers continued to buzz and took full advantage when Hartford’s Rohan Roye received his second yellow card of the match and was ejected in the 72nd minute.
On the ensuing free kick, senior midfielder Geaton Caltabiano’s shot (Lothian, Md./Mount St. Joseph) struck the far left post.
But just three minutes later, Hauck retrieved a loose ball 25 yards from the goal, beat one defender and had space to get off a quality shot. His effort from 18 yards out tucked neatly into the right corner of the goal, setting off a wild celebration on the very chilly evening.
“Gregg came on late in the season, he didn’t play much and he didn’t start [prior to that],and the last four or five games, he has been fantastic and in this tournament, he has been phenomenal,” Caringi said. “ I am just really happy for him, it shows that hard work pays off”
The only other America East squad to win three consecutive titles is Boston University. The Terriers captured five in a row from 1993-97. UMBC also joined the former league member as teams that won the regular season and tournament titles in back-to-back campaigns. Boston U. achieved that feat in 1993-94.
UMBC outshot Hartford, 18-8, including 13-2 in the second half.
The NCAA selection show will be held on Monday at 1:00 p.m. and air exclusively on www.ncaa.com.
Notes: UMBC has reached the NCAA Tournament in four of the past five seasons… With four tournament tiles (in 12 years), UMBC trails only Boston University, with seven total championships… UMBC is now unbeaten in its last 25 games against America East foes… The goal scored by Hartford is the first allowed by the Retrievers in the four championship game victories… The Retrievers improved to 3-3-2 when allowing the game’s first goal in 2014… UMBC is now 9-0-4 in the month of November over the past three seasons.