By Krystina Lucido
Baltimore-born and bred soccer player Pete Caringi III has had much success playing for his hometown teams through support both at home and on the field. It helps that this support comes from the same person.
Pete Caringi Jr. has been the head men's soccer coach for the UMBC Retrievers for 23 years and honed his soccer skills on the fields of Baltimore County as a player during the 1970s. So when it was time for his namesake to pick a college, other recruiters thought it was in the bank that the younger Caringi would follow his dad to Catonsville.
"I wanted him to explore all his options," Caringi Jr. said. "Obviously [I] thought he was a good player and that he could help us, but I wanted what was best for him. I'm looking out for him from a father's standpoint at that point."
Caringi III is in his senior year at UMBC and played at his dad's alma mater, Calvert Hall, before that. During the college offseason, he keeps his legs fresh playing for the Baltimore Bohemians of the Professional Development League. He won the PDL Young Player of the Year award for the 2013 season, the team's second year, after leading the squad to a second-place finish in the Mid-Atlantic Division, recording 16 goals to win the league scoring title, along with contributing five assists during 12 games.
From the time he was in the first grade, Caringi III was at UMBC with his dad, kicking a soccer ball around, following the same footsteps with his dad's players as he would years later by himself as a Retriever.
"I remember the '99 team when I was real young," Caringi III said. "I would look up to all those guys and that's what I wanted to do, win a championship. I was rushing the field when they won. I was always there, seeing them win. I felt like I was part of the team, and it felt like that my whole life basically.
"I was at the school so many years as a young kid, coming around, and I felt comfortable being here. And everything I learned about picking a college, it's where you feel comfortable at."
It helped his senior year of high school when Caringi saw the Retrievers lose during the finals of the America East Conference tournament, one game short of winning a conference championship. It was motivation for him to be the missing piece the team needed to succeed. Turns out, he was right.
UMBC won the championship Caringi's freshman year -- when he twice captured America East Rookie of the Week honors and ended the 2010 season with 17 points -- as well as his junior season, when he recorded the third-highest point total (32) and fourth-most goals (14) for a junior Retriever at the NCAA Division I level.
"He's just blossomed the last three years here," Caringi Jr. said. "He's gotten better and better every year. … In the critical years, he's continued to evolve and grow as a player, which I think is exactly what you want to do."
The younger Caringi said he hoped to take this show on the road next year and continue playing soccer after college. But for now, he is focused on his senior season.
"Hopefully having a great season this fall and our team going pretty far can help me to continue playing after college," Caringi III said. "With all the highs and lows the first three years, it gave us a blueprint for what we need to do this year. We're ready for this year now. We feel comfortable; we have good leadership and great players."
His coach, who was drafted by the Washington Diplomats in 1978 after winning a national championship and going to the Final Four twice at the University of Baltimore and winning two national championships at Calvert Hall, said he thought his son could make it at the next level.
"He loves to win," Caringi Jr. said. "I think any team could use that. He's very good in the goal, around the goal area. And obviously every soccer team needs a guy that can finish, and he's probably one of the best finishers in the country right now.
"He's mentally tough. Now he has to understand he's much more of a marked player than he's been, and people will try to find his weaknesses. He's playing well enough now that I think he's really evolved in his game."
And no matter where his talents take him, his dad and coach will be there to support him. Both contend nothing has changed since Caringi III entered college three years ago, and the younger Caringi said he could count on his dad for knowledge, support and advice.
Of his relationship with his father, Caringi III said: "I went out there. I played. If I wanted to talk to him about something, I would. It's kind of still like that now. He's my coach now, but we've had the same relationship over the last three years that we had before college started, which is a positive. It hasn't changed anything."
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• Sports Participation Valuable To Students At St. Elizabeth School
Issue 189: September 2013