The Mount reaches a soccer high

October 13, 1994|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,Sun Staff Writer

Just when it appeared that Maryland's men's soccer team had the Comeback of the Year award wrapped up, along comes Mount St. Mary's to lay claim to the title -- at the expense of the Terrapins.

Last week, Mount St. Mary's traveled to Maryland, which was enjoying its best start in 20 years, not to mention a No. 15 national ranking. Even first-year coach Mark Mettrick acknowledged his shock at what occurred.

The Mountaineers, despite being dominated for long stretches and being outshot 21-5, turned two goals by junior Matt Gannon into a 2-1 upset. It marked the first time the Mountaineers had beaten Maryland, or any ranked team, and it suddenly gave the (( growing program a place on the Division I map.

Not bad for a team that starts three freshmen and four sophomores and has only four scholarships. Not bad for a team coming off a 6-11 season and a mediocre showing in the Northeast Conference.

"I look at [Maryland's] loss column, and I see Virginia, N.C. State and now, Mount St. Mary's. That's incredible. If you had told me that at the beginning of the season, I would have laughed at you," said Mettrick, whose team equaled last year's victory total at Maryland, then beat St. Francis (Pa.) two days later for the first time, 2-0.

Gannon was chosen NEC Player of the Week, and teammate and freshman sweeper Brian Wall was NEC Newcomer of the Week. They helped to underscore a Mount St. Mary's team (7-3-1) that is not a one-upset wonder.

Gannon and sophomore Dan Gaertner (Glenelg), who teamed for the game-winning goal at Maryland, have sparked an offense that has produced an NEC-high 27 goals, five more than last year. Behind Wall and goalkeeper Keith Kennedy, the Mountaineers have surrendered only 13 goals, second-lowest total in the league. Kennedy owns a league-best 0.82 goals-against average.

Mount St. Mary's, which has never approached a Division I postseason tournament, could end up there. With six games left, the Mountaineers are a close third in the conference behind Rider and Robert Morris. The NEC winner will face the Patriot League winner in an NCAA tournament play-in game.

"Obviously, the Maryland win has opened a lot of eyes, but I hope it's not the peak of our season," Mettrick said.

UMBC just wants to get by

UMBC men's soccer coach Pete Caringi wishes he shared Mettrick's concerns. These days, Caringi isn't worrying about winning a conference title or making a national tournament. Just winning a game or making it through a week without losing a player would cheer him up.

In 13 previous seasons, including 10 terrific ones at Essex Community College, Caringi did not have a losing season.

This has been the fall of Caringi's discontent. The Retrievers (5-6-1, 1-3-1) have gone winless in four straight games, tumbling to sixth in the Big South. And Caringi is losing players faster than games. This season, 11 players have been injured. The Retrievers have yet to start the same lineup in two games.

"Everybody has to go through this at some point in their profession, and I guess this is my year," he said. "Not to sound egotistical, but I don'thave any experience with this. I can't fall back on any other time when this has happened. It's eating me up and tearing me apart."

Not to mention his players. The season got off to a foreboding start. In the third game, junior midfielder J. J. Kremer, the team's top player, went down with a season-ending knee injury.

Since then, UMBC has lost backs Olivier Bityeki (knee), Greg Buchanski (ankle) and Jay Pierorazio (shin splints) and forward Eric Bathras (foot) for the season. Goalie C. J. Norton (shoulder), backs Caleb DeSouza (ankle) and Anthony Adams (ankle) and midfielders Jorge Stecco (thigh) and Derrick Phillips (toe) have missed time. Forward Bryan Bugarin has played the past three games with a separated shoulder.

"We had nine players who didn't suit up for the Navy game [a 4-2 loss], seven of whom were starters," Caringi said. "Every time I think it can't worse, it gets worse. Every time I turn around, someone else is out."

The beauty of sports

If you like fall sports in a gorgeous setting, a trip to Western Maryland College on Saturday might be in order. The day's centerpiece is the homecoming football game against Centennial Conference powerhouse Dickinson. The men's soccer team plays host to Washington College. And, Western Maryland is the site of this year's Maryland State Cross Country Championship, which will bring about 300 runners from 20 Division I, II and III schools to the campus. Then there's the 13th annual North-South Classic, a 12-team, Division III volleyball tournament.

In all, about 625 athletes will be competing at Western Maryland. That's a little more than half the number of students enrolled there.

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