Top-seeded UMBC falls to Northeastern, 1-0

Retrievers' season ends in America East semifinals

College Soccer

November 09, 2003|By Phillip McGowan | Phillip McGowan,SUN STAFF

So many things had gone right for the UMBC men's soccer team in its first season in the America East Conference.

The Retrievers earned the top seed in the league tournament and a week's worth of rest heading into yesterday's semifinal against visiting Northeastern.

Then they went out with a whimper.

Tom Heimreid scored his first goal of the season off a corner kick from Atha Kirkopoulos 10:20 into the game, and fifth-seeded Northeastern stood resolute in defending a series of UMBC attacks all the way to the final second in pulling off a 1-0 victory.

"We felt this was our year," said sophomore defender Marcus Gross, who had two scoring chances among several UMBC produced in the second half.

The Retrievers (10-3-5), whose nine-game unbeaten streak was stopped by Maine in the last conference regular-season game Nov. 1, ended the year on their first and only two-game skid of the season. They were shut out for the first time since losing at Old Dominion, 2-0, on Sept. 24.

"We had come up with the goal we needed all year long. ... I never doubted that we were going to score a goal," said UMBC coach Pete Caringi.

But Northeastern (10-7-3), the defending conference tournament champion, learned from its previous encounter with UMBC on Sept. 28 in Boston. The Huskies twice took the lead only to see Derek McElligott, a first-time All-Conference player from Greater Grace, even the score each time in a 2-2 draw.

Yesterday, the Huskies double- and triple-teamed McElligott, who ranked fourth in the nation with 15 goals coming into the semifinal. His best opportunities came on a shot that veered left of the goal with 8:40 left and a header he missed in the closing seconds.

The Retrievers entered the semifinal just 3-2-3 on more than two days' rest, a statistic Caringi deemed as meaningless, but McElligott's scoring absence wasn't: The Retrievers hadn't lost when he scored, running up a 7-0-4 mark.

"Our kids were ready. We trained hard all week to be ready," said Caringi, whose team sent eight of its 11 shots at the goal after halftime. "There's always a little bit of excitement at the beginning of the game, and that's a veteran team we're playing."

Northeastern will face No. 2 Binghamton, a 1-0 victor yesterday over No. 3 Hartford, next week in the tournament final, marking the Huskies' third consecutive championship appearance.

Kirkopoulos scored just 1:05 into the game, but the goal was waved off because the conversion came directly off an indirect kick. About nine minutes later, a UMBC defensive miscue set up a corner kick for Kirkopoulos, whose kick found the foot of Heimreid.

Afterward, coach Ed Matz and Kirkopoulos prodded Heimreid to talk about his rare moment in the spotlight. He kept it brief. "It's a goal," Heimreid said.

Goal: N-Heimreid. Assist: N-Kirkopoulos. Saves: N-Saccoccio 4; UMBC-Marchica 2.

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