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Firebirds Edged in Overtime Heartbreaker, 16-15 by LIU Post

Hart scored three goals in the Firebirds effort.
Hart scored three goals in the Firebirds effort.

WASHINGTON, DC – A fourth-year program nearly upset the four-year reigning East Coast Conference champions, but the host and underdog University of the District of Columbia men's lacrosse team was narrowly defeated in overtime, 16-15 by LIU Post in thrilling ECC action on a rainy Saturday afternoon at UDC Field.

The Firebirds fell to 4-7 overall and 2-5 in ECC play with today's loss, and they will conclude their 2017 season on Saturday on the road vs. ECC foe Dominican College. UDC is now 1-2 all-time in overtime games. LIU Post, a historic national powerhouse that boasts three NCAA Division II national championships, improved to 6-7 overall and 3-3 in league play.

Despite losing the first 14 faceoffs of the game and 15-of-18 in the first half, UDC clawed and fought its way into forcing five separate ties, including an 8-8 tie at intermission. The Firebirds finally took their first and only lead of the day, 9-8 on a goal by sophomore attack Zach Hart just over a minute into the 3rd quarter. Hart's goal capped a 4-0 Firebird surge that spanned both halves and began with a Tyler Mace breakaway goal assisted by goalkeeper Nikolas Lund-Murray at the 4:18 mark in the 2nd quarter.

After Hart's goal, however, the Pioneers responded with a 6-0 charge to take the largest lead of the day by either team, 14-9, with 6:36 remaining in the 3rd quarter. But just when it looked like LIU Post had all the momentum, a tremendous stick check by LaRon Hinton led to another breakaway goal by Mace (assisted by Alan Singleton), and made it 14-10 heading into the 4th quarter.

UDC, which was just 10-of-34 on faceoffs for the game, benefitted greatly from junior midfielder Teilen Celentano going 4-of-6 on faceoffs in the 4th quarter. The Firebirds scored four straight goals to start the 4th quarter to cap a 5-0 run started by Mace's goal at the end of the 3rd quarter, and with Celentano's unassisted goal at 6:09, UDC had come back from a five-goal deficit to tie the score at 14.

Following Celentano's goal, LIU Post's faceoff specialist Anthony Galeotafiore won the ensuing faceoff, and the Pioneers melted a lot of clock before Chris Trasacco scored a go-ahead goal at the 1:41 mark to make it 15-14. Celentano would beat Galeotafiore on the next faceoff, though, and after two shot attempts and a holding penalty on the Pioneers, UDC converted its 2nd of three man-up opportunities in the final period, and LaRon Hinton forced a 15-all tie on his only goal of the day with 33 seconds remaining.

Celentano again won the final faceoff in regulation, resulting in two shot attempts in the final 30 seconds by Hinton. The first was wide, and following a UDC timeout, his next shot with nine seconds remaining was saved by LIU Post goalkeeper Matthew Liantonio, and the game then headed to overtime.

Connor Farrell won the crucial first overtime faceoff for the Pioneers, and following a LIU Post timeout, Lund-Murray came up with a clutch save on a shot by Michael Licata with 3:04 remaining in the extra session. Senior defender Jhamed Owens scooped up the ground ball for UDC, but the Firebirds' clear attempt failed due to a turnover on a pass that sailed well over the head of a UDC attacker, giving LIU Post possession right back with just under three minutes remaining. (This was one of only a season-low 15 turnovers on a wet and rainy day by UDC)

With 1:38 remaining in the overtime period, LIU Post's Trasacco scored the sudden-death goal to give the Pioneers the 16-15 victory.

Hart, Mace and Singleton each registered six points on the day as Hart scored a team-high five goals with one assist, Mace scored four goals with two assists, and Singleton scored two goals with a game-high-tying four assists. Junior midfielder Syrrus Nash and Hinton each added three points as well – Nash had two goals and one assist, and Hinton had one goal and two assists.

Hinton also had a game-high four caused turnovers, defensively, and each of UDC's three senior defenders (who were honored during a pre-game Senior Day Ceremony) had at least one caused turnover on the day. Jhamed Owens had one caused turnover and three ground balls, Louis Laurore had two caused turnovers and one ground ball, and Clifford Strickland had one caused turnover and two groundballs.

Freshman goalkeeper Nikolas Lund-Muray stopped 12 of 28 shots faced in a complete game effort. LIU Post's goalkeeper, Matthew Liantonio, stopped six of 21 shots to earn the complete game victory.

LIU Post featured seven different goal scorers, including Dylan Harned with a game-high seven points on six goals and one assist. Austin Guerrina added seven points on three goals and four assists, and Trasacco finished with six points on two goals and four assists. Galeotafiore was 12-of-17 and Farrell were each 12-of-17 on faceoffs and combined for 17 ground balls.

The Pioneers won 24-of-34 faceoffs, out-shot UDC, 45-33, won the ground ball battle, 39-28, and converted 2-of-3 man-up opportunities. UDC doubled-up LIU Post in saves, 12-6, had six fewer turnovers (21-15), and converted 2-of-4 man-up chances, including 2-of-3 in the 4th quarter where it outscored the Pioneers, 5-1.