WASHINGTON, DC – Despite playing down one man for the entire second half, the University of the District of Columbia men's soccer team threatened to erase a 3-1 deficit late in the game, but the Firebirds gifted LIU Post an insurance goal in the 89th minute and wound up losing their first league game as a member of the East Coast Conference, 4-2 on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in the nation's capital.
"I think we gave it a great effort today against a quality team," head coach Matt Thompson said. "I can't fault our guys for their intensity. And if they're the best team in our conference, then I think we'll be right there or thereabouts by the end of the season. There were certainly a lot of positives to take from today, and I'm proud of our guys."
The Firebirds, ranked No. 7 in the East Region heading into this week, have now lost two straight games as their record dropped to 3-2-1. The Pioneers, ranked No. 17 in the nation and 3rd in the East Region, improved to 6-0.
Almost 30 minutes of very evenly matched action passed before either team scored, but Eivind Austboe gave the visitors the game's first goal as he hammered home a rebound off of a Jonathon Watkin shot that was initially saved by Firebird graduate goalkeeper Omar Gonzalez (Los Angeles, CA – Park View HS).
District of Columbia answered a little less than five minutes later when sophomore Ben Diaz (Education – Silver Spring, MD/Northwood HS) sent a beautiful cross into the box on a direct kick and freshman Moussa Traore (Psychology – Silver Spring, MD/John F. Kennedy HS) headed it in to the upper part of the net for his first goal of the season.
Just before halftime, the Pioneers went back in front on a penalty kick goal by Austboe – his second of the afternoon. With that goal, LIU Post would take a 2-1 advantage into halftime. Not only would District of Columbia be down a goal to start the second half, it would be down one man due to one of its players getting a red card in the 41st minute.
Andreas Olson added another goal for Post in the 60th minute as he beat Firebird defenders down the left side of the field after receiving a pass from Carl Lystad and fired a shot past Gonzalez to put the Pioneers up, 3-1.
Still, the Firebirds even down a player showed no quit as senior Adriel Garcia (Physical Education – Sau Paulo, Brazil/Anglo Campinas) came off the bench to give the host's a tremendous offensive lift. In just the second half alone he fired three shots and created several other quality scoring opportunities for the Firebirds before having to exit the game in the final minute due to his second yellow care of the afternoon. Garcia did tally a goal just before the 70-minute mark to pull District of Columbia within a goal, but the Firebirds were unable to force a tie though they had many chances.
The Firebirds' hopes were dashed with just under 1:30 left in regulation as a sloppy pass by a Firebird defender was intercepted by Matias Ruiz, who sidestepped Gonzalez and tapped the ball in the net from about two feet away for a Pioneer insurance goal which made the score, 4-2.
LIU Post held a 21-11 shot advantage (14-4 in the first half) as well as a 7-1 differential in corner kicks. The Pioneers' goalkeeper, Marco Jorgensen made one save while allowing two goals as he earned the victory. Gonzalez made six saves and allowed four goals as he took the loss.