On the surface, a 3-0 scoreline featuring goals from a former MLS draftee doesn’t seem particularly unusual, particularly in a match against a fourth tier NPSL side. However, in the case of Pete Caringi III’s emphatic hat trick for Maryland amateur side Christos FC, such a result represents a rather eye-catching development.
The former University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) standout’s conspicuous three-goal performance lifted the Open Cup debutants to a convincing road victory over a solid NPSL outfit, Fredericksburg FC, in what was the sole hat trick of the round and only the 52nd in the Modern Era. What was especially rare about the hat trick was that Caringi becomes just the second player from a USASA regional team to score three in a game (Argient Duka, Icon FC vs. Brooklyn Italians of NPSL in 2013 First Round). In a much more obscure bit of history, Caringi’s three goals had the biggest gap of time in between each goal of any hat trick in the Modern Era.
For his performance, Caringi was voted TheCup.us Player of the Round for the First Round. The award is voted on by TheCup.us staff and a select panel from the North American Soccer Reporters.
Opening the score early and lifting amateur Christos to an early lead, Caringi’s fourth minute goal set in motion an auspicious match for the Baltimore-based side. After settling in and holding the determined Virginians scoreless for the remainder of the first half, Christos would bag an additional goal in the early part of the second. It was none other than the big man, Caringi, who added to his account with a convincing header off a gorgeous set-piece delivery from Mamadou Kansaye. Finally, with Christos having staved off fierce charges from a tenacious Fredericksburg side, Caringi completed his hat trick in the 87th minute with a clinical chip from just outside the 18.
In this stellar performance, hat trick hero demonstrated an incredible pedigree vastly exceeding that of a typical Sunday league 24-year old. His relatively brief but eventful career began with renowned youth soccer club Baltimore Bays. Thereafter, he continued his Baltimore playing career with UMBC, playing under his father, Coach Pete Caringi II. As a Retriever, Caringi III not only picked up All-American honors, but was also a semifinalist for the NCAA’s prestigious Hermann Trophy, the first in school history.
Outside of a phenomenal college career, Caringi plied his trade for the PDL’s Baltimore Bohemians between 2012 and 2013 before a selection by Montreal Impact in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft. However, Caringi was left unsigned by the Impact and eventually signed for the Oklahoma City Energy. After 11 appearances and a single goal, he returned to his old stomping grounds to serve as an assistant coach for his alma mater, continuing his playing career all the while under the tutelage of his former youth club coaches with Christos FC.
Beyond his clinical ability in front of the goal, Caringi plays a critical role in the Christos team.
“Petey comes back into the mix a bit and will do all the dirty work,” said general manager and club founder Jody Haislip. “He wins most, if not all, of the 50-50 balls and that creates offense for us when he does play a bit further back in the attack.”
Clearly in both of his goal scoring prowess and general offensive contributions, Caringi plays an incredibly important role for his team, and demonstrated as much as an essential component in leading the Maryland boys to a first round upset.
In Round 1, Caringi demonstrated the prolific attacking ability that won him numerous honors throughout his collegiate career and carried him to the pros. If he can replicate that same quality next round against USL staples Richmond Kickers, Caringi’s longtime Baltimore playing career may be prolonged but more likely with a pro team looking for a two-way forward.