UMBC head men’s soccer coach Pete Caringi, who recently won his 300th game as the head coach of the Retrievers, never expected to reach that level of success when he took over the program in 1991.
Frankly, the thought of reaching any milestones has never crossed the coach’s mind throughout his 30-year career at UMBC. For Caringi, his mindset has always been on the game in front of him.
“For the most part, I didn’t even want to be aware of it,” Caringi said of his 300th win on Glenn Clark Radio Feb 26. “For now, it’s just about the next game and you don’t really think about how many wins you have. It’s what your [team] is doing right now.”
Caringi didn’t even realize his team’s spring 2021 season opener against George Washington could be his 300th win until his sports information director mentioned it to him right before the game.
But Caringi’s players and staff made sure to let him know how meaningful his accomplishment was to them, showering him with hugs and compliments in the locker room after the Retrievers won a double-overtime thriller against the Colonials Feb. 23.
“I would have never expected to have 300 at UMBC and to be here as long as I have,” Caringi said. “But that’s where fate took me, for sure.”
Caringi holds a 300-186-75 career mark at UMBC and has taken the Retrievers to the NCAA Tournament five times. UMBC’s deepest tournament run came in 2014, when the Retrievers beat Creighton in penalty kicks to earn a trip to the Final Four of the “College Cup.” Caringi earned NSCAA, ECAC and Soccer America Coach of the Year honors for his efforts in 2014.
Caringi holds the program’s success in 2014 in high regard.
“Just the fact that I sat there for a moment and realized that … we were going to the Final Four,” Caringi said. “It was just really emotional for me because it was everything I was kind of dreaming of.”
Caringi coached for 10 years at Essex Community College before heading to UMBC. He coached the Knights to seven JuCo championships, earning NJCAA Coach of the Year honors in 1984 and 1989.
Despite all the things Caringi can look back on and be proud of, the present-minded coach has been especially enamored with the effort his team this year has put in.
The college soccer season is typically played in the fall, but this year’s America East season was pushed back to the spring due to COVID-19. The preparation for this season has been unlike any other, with practices being shut down sporadically in the fall and spring due to the virus — all the more reason why Caringi is proud of the resilience of his team.
“[This season] was nothing I could have dreamt of. Unprecedented,” Caringi said. “For the most part, I can’t say enough about how well the kids have handled it, because as a young person you want to play and they’re doing everything they can to make sure that they’re safe and protect one another.”
UMBC currently sits at 1-0 on the season. Caringi and the Retrievers will travel to Stony Brook to take on the Seawolves March 5. UMBC is scheduled to play just six more games after that.
For Caringi, he has put all the distractions behind him to try and get his team where he needs it to be.
“Let’s win the next one,” Caringi said. “That’s for sure.”
For more from Caringi, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Ian Feldmann