Levi Houapeu recorded his second hat trick of the season and added an assists for his first seven point game.
For the first time in two years the UMBC men’s soccer team clinched a birth in the America East Conference tournament, which allows just the top six teams in the conference.
After a big road win over Boston University the team came out fired up again and this time clinched the spot with a 5-1 rout of Albany during their home season finale.
Junior forward Levi Houepeu recorded his second three-goal game of the season, making him the first Retriever since Derek McElligott had two in 2001. He also had an assist to give him seven points, the most since McElligott did it against Central Connecticut state on Sept. 28, 2001.
In the 16th minute Houapeu knocked a ball to inside the left post from eight yards out off passes from Mark Lubetkin and Andrew Bulls.
Then 16 minutes later junior midfielder Dustin Dzwonkowski recorded his second game winning goal in as many games when he receivced a pass to the inside from Houapeu and knocked it inside the right post from 12 yards out.
But UMBC was not don there. Houepeu recorded his second goal of the half off a cross from Andrew Bulls less than three minutes later to increase UMBC’s lead to 3-0 into the half.
Less than 13 minutes into the second half Houepeu netted his third goal and seventh point off a pass from John Paul Waraksa for his 14th goal of the season (one behind Andrew Bulls’ nation leading 15 goals). Houepeu also recorded his 39th point of the season to make him the second leading scorer in the nation, again just one point behind teammate Bulls.
While time was winding down and UMBC looked as if they would walk away from the game with a victory head coach Pete Caringi began to bring in many substitutes and just as the clock hit 70:00 Albany finally got on the board when Ian Peach scored off a corner kick.
With eight minutes remaining Dustin Dzwonkowski added one last insurance goal off a tip from Bulls, who received a cross from Matt Knight. The goal marked Dzwonkowski’s third goal of the season, all three of which came in the last two games.
Dustin Dzwonkowski recorded two goals against Albany, giving him three on the season.
Bulls recorded a career-high three goals against Albany to give him 10 on the season. Combined with his 15 goals this year Bulls has been the highest scoring player of the nation the entire season and has recorded 40 this year, the most since Giuliano Celenza recorded 46 in 2000.
Andrew Bulls recorded a career high three assists, giving him 40 points on the season.
UMBC is 12-3-0 on the season and 3-2-0 in the conference. With a spot clinched in the America East tournament they have two games left this season (at Hartford and at Binghamton) and will be fighting for the second overall seed in the tournament, giving them a first round bye and a guaranteed home game.