BROOKVILLE, NY – The No. 5 seed University of the District of Columbia scored three first half goals and cruised to a 3-0 win vs. No. 4 Southern Connecticut State in First Round action of the Firebirds' NCAA Division II Tournament debut Thursday afternoon on the campus of LIU Post.
The Firebirds (15-6) out-shot the Owls 10-1 in the first half and scored goals in the 4th, 16th and 37th minutes to take a 3-0 lead into halftime. SCSU (11-4-4) had a 9-1 shot advantage in the 2nd half and put three shots on goal, but UDC senior goalkeeper Ever Alvarez (1-1) stopped all three to preserve his first complete game shutout of the season and 4th of his career.
With the win, UDC advances to the Second Round where it will square off for the 3rd time this season against East Coast Conference foe and No. 1 seed, LIU Post.
ECC Offensive Player of the Year Gabriel Torres opened the scoring at the 3:24 mark on a free kick goal from just outside the box in the middle of the field. Torres beat Noah Varonier to the left corner of the net for his 20th goal this season, which puts him tied for 2nd on the school's single-season goals list. This was also Torres' 8th game-winning goal this year.
Almost 12 minutes later, UDC tacked on another goal by sophomore forward Malik Thom. Very active on the left wing throughout the first half, Thom was in the box on a corner kick taken by junior midfielder Kelvin Hererra, and he followed junior defender Michael Agboola's blocked shot by blasting a shot top shelf for his 1st goal of the season to put UDC ahead, 2-0.
Southern Connecticut, a Northeast 10 Conference semifinalist this year, attempted to mount a comeback, taking three consecutive corner kicks at 32:09, 35:04 and 35:30, but could not capitalize on any of them. The Firebirds worked quickly up the field after the third corner was cleared out of the UDC zone, and junior forward Salah Warid headed in a cross by Torres for another Firebirds insurance goal to give UDC a 3-0 cushion. Torres' assist was his 12th of the season, giving him 52 points scored on the year.
Torres, who had not scored a goal in the previous four games, nearly added a 2nd goal on a free kick in the 2nd half, but Varonier made a diving save – one of five saves he made in the complete game effort. The Firebirds played conservative after that, not taking any more shots the rest of the half. Still, First Team All-ECC defender Michael Agboola and Third Team All-ECC defender Victor Salinas Furio anchored a back line that played shut-down defense the entire game, and UDC won comfortably, by a final score of 3-0.
UDC and LIU Post will battle at Pioneer Soccer Park for the 3rd time this season on Saturday, November 11th at 1 p.m. The Pioneers have won both of the previous two meetings – first, a come-from-behind, 4-3 overtime victory at UDC Field in the regular season, and then a 3-0 victory on its home field in the ECC Finals on November 3rd.