BROOKVILLE, NY – The No. 5 seed University of the District of Columbia men's soccer team was defeated by No. 1 seed and Super Regional 1 host, LIU Post, 2-1 in the NCAA Division II Championship Second Round on a cold, autumn afternoon Saturday at Pioneer Soccer Park.
In what was the third meeting this season between these two East Coast Conference powers, the Firebirds (15-7) played the unbeaten, No. 4 ranked Pioneers (17-0-2) to a 1-1 tie for nearly 62 minutes before surrendering the game-winning header goal by Charlie Ledula off of a cross by Mike Sutton with less than five minutes remaining in regulation. This marked the second of three losses to LIU Post this season where UDC was defeated by just one goal.
LIU Post advances to play the winner of tonight's No. 2 seed Adelphi University vs. No. 6 Goldey-Beacom College, Second Round contest in the Third Round next week.
Senior goalkeeper Ever Guevera Alvarez had a season-high six saves in the loss, playing aggressive and limiting the Pioneers' scoring chances in the box. Defensemen Michael Agboola, Victor Salinas Furio and Pablo Basarte were stellar in front of Guevera Alvarez, and midfielders Chris Moke, Kelvin Hererra and Gabriel Velluto were outstanding possessing the ball in the midfield.
Playing with the wind in the first half, the Pioneers struck first with Lukas Ostermann dribbling through the Firebirds' defense and blasting a shot past Guevera Alvarez to open the scoring a little over seven minutes into the game. Ostermann, who registered a goal and an assist in LIU Post's 3-0 win over UDC in the ECC Finals last week, fired the first two shots of the game and capitalized on the second attempt to give the Pioneers an early, 1-0 lead.
A little over 16 minutes later, Hererra forced a 1-1 tie as he found an opening within a scrum in front of the net and snuck a shot past Pioneer goalkeeper Oliver Hessner Hansen for his 4th goal of the season. LIU Post went on to out-shoot UDC 4-1 in the remaining 22 minutes of the first half, with Guevera Alvarez stopping two, and another hitting off of the right post just before halftime. The two teams headed to halftime tied, 1-1.
The Pioneers came out the aggressors in the 2nd half, taking two corner kicks and a header shot on goal in the first six minutes once play resumed. Around the 62-minute mark there came some controversy. Guevera Alvarez came charging all the way just outside the top of the box to dive on a loose ball and stop a LIU Post advance by Ledula, taking Ledula's legs out on the play. Initially no call was made, but after play stopped to evaluate Ledula (who was lying on the ground), the officials deliberated for at least a few minutes and ultimately handed Guevera Alvarez a red card. They later changed the red card to a yellow card, allowing Guevera Alvarez to remain in the game, but setting LIU Post up with a free kick just outside the box.
The free kick resulted in a rocket of a shot by the Pioneers' Harry Pearse, but a fired-up Guevera Alvarez dove and punched the ball out. UDC then defended and cleared away the ensuing LIU Post corner kick to keep the game tied for the time being.
Following that clearance, UDC went right down the field and junior reserve forward Salah Warid headed a shot just wide to the right of the net that would have given the Firebirds a 2-1 edge. UDC went on to take three consecutive corner kicks in a span of 11 minutes, but could not manage to score on any of them.
Later on, after Ledulla's game-winning goal, UDC had one final corner kick just under the one-minute mark, taken by ECC Offensive Player of the Year, Gabriel Torres. The sophomore midfielder's kick was headed away though by a LIU Post defender, and the Pioneers held on for the narrow win.
UDC finishes the season tied for 2nd place in school history with 15 wins on the season, a new program record for East Coast Conference wins in a season (6), the program's first ever NCAA Tournament appearance, and UDC's first ever NCAA Tournament win – a 3-0 victory over Southern Connecticut State University in the First Round.
Head Coach Matt Thompson, who became the first head coach to win an NCAA Division II Tournament game with three different schools, has 21 student-athletes returning from this year's 25-man roster in Fall 2018.