Maryland men’s soccer midfielder Jorge Calix is ignoring some texts.
Ahead of Tuesday’s game between the Terps and UMBC, some of the Retrievers players have messaged Calix, perhaps looking to continue some of the banter that began months earlier when the fall schedule was released.
“I’ll just see them after the game,” Calix said. “I’ll talk to them then.”
Calix won’t be the only Terp with a list of Retrievers to catch up with after Tuesday’s battle in Baltimore. The teams feature many local players coming from the hotbed of soccer talent in their backyard, helping explain the friendly rivalry between the squads that have been tightly matched in recent meetings.
“It’s friendships that you have off the field that you have to put away for 90 minutes,” midfielder Eryk Williamson said. “It’s ‘me against you’ kind of thing.”
Many of the connections stem from the D.C. United Academy, where Williamson, Calix, forward DJ Reeves and other Terps have trained over the years alongside UMBC players.
Tuesday’s game has been anticipated for them, even in a year when the Terps (6-0-2, 2-0-2 Big Ten) have already played two top-10 teams and have more highly ranked opponents looming later.
“It’s about 10 of us that all played together last summer,” Williamson said. “We kind of talk a little trash on that team and it’s — we finally get to play each other.”
The Terps haven’t played UMBC since 2014. That year, the teams played a scoreless draw in the regular season before the Retrievers knocked Maryland out of the NCAA tournament.
Maryland beat UMBC in 2012, and 2011 was the last time the Retrievers hosted the Terps, when Maryland escaped with a double-overtime win.
“These are really fun games,” coach Sasho Cirovski said. “There’s always bragging rights involved, but more than anything, they’re a good team.”
The Retrievers are 5-2-1, coming off a 2-0 loss to No. 12 Western Michigan but owning a 3-1 upset win over then-No. 19 West Virginia earlier in the year.
UMBC has 19 players from Maryland and Virginia, highlighting the level of play in the local area.
“It’s the most recruited area in the country,” Cirovski said.
The D.C. United Academy and strong clubs like Bethesda-Olney strike a healthy balance with the high school programs, Cirovski said, to help create an abundance of soccer talent in the area.
Then, players have plenty of options to stay close to home when choosing a college. Maryland, UMBC, Georgetown and Loyola are among the well-respected local programs.
“At some point in the long run, I’d love to bring the College Cup to the Baltimore/D.C. area,” Cirovski said, “because this area does care about college soccer.”
Tuesday’s game, though, isn’t the NCAA tournament, or even a conference game. But thanks to the high level of local talent and familiar faces on both sides, the stakes are high.
“I take it a little bit more serious than [other games],” Calix said. “I don’t want them to make fun of me if we lose.”