SPARKILL, NY – The University of the District of Columbia fought its way back from a 2-0 deficit to tie the score in regulation, and ultimately, after two overtimes, settled for a 2-2 tie vs. St. Thomas Aquinas College in a very evenly-played East Coast Conference battle on Wednesday afternoon at Spartan Field.
The Firebirds (2-6-1, 2-0-1 ECC) surrendered two Spartan goals less than two minutes apart, both in the first 12 minutes of regulation, but they gained some momentum right before halftime when sophomore forward Kevin Claure-Guzman scored his 2nd goal of the season with just under two minutes remaining in the period to make it 2-1 at the break.
The second half, which saw UDC out-shoot St. Thomas Aquinas, 9-5 and take three corner kicks to the Spartans' zero, featured only one goal in 45 minutes, and it was UDC freshman midfielder Benhur Gebretsanie's first collegiate goal to knot the score at 2 in the 72nd minute. Gebretsanie's goal came on a shot fired from the top of the box after a nice passing assist from senior defender, Victor Salinas-Furio.
STAC's Luis Morales, the 2nd leading goal scorer in the ECC with six goals this season, nearly broke the tie just over a minute after Gebretsanie's goal, but his shot clanked off the post. The Firebirds also had their chances to score what would have been their 3rd unanswered goal of the game, as they took six more shots after the game-tying goal and put three on goal. The last two of those shots were off of corner kicks, but STAC goalkeeper Jack Nicholson was up to the task.
So with a 2-2 tie, the game headed to overtime, where the Spartans out-shot UDC 3-0 in the first 10-minute extra session. Senior goalkeeper Ever Guevera Alvarez saved both shots he faced to preserve the tie and send the game to a 2nd overtime session. Alvarez would finish with four saves and two goals allowed.
Only one shot was taken in the 2nd overtime, and it was by the last player to score in this game – Benhur Gebretsanie. The freshman looked like he'd have his 2nd goal of the day and send the Firebirds off with a 2nd straight stunning ECC road victory, but it was not to be as a Spartan defender got in the way at the last second and blocked his shot.
With the tie, UDC is now 2-1-1 in its last four games since starting the season 0-5, and the Firebirds are among just four ECC teams still unbeaten in league play this year. St. Thomas Aquinas, which came in ranked No. 9 in the East Region, is also still unbeaten in league play at 2-0-2, and moved to 5-1-2 overall.
The Firebirds face another tough task against perennial ECC powerhouse NYIT (5-3-1, 1-1 ECC) at Georgetown University's Cooper Field on Saturday, October 1st at 12 p.m. UDC will look to knock off the Bears for the first time since joining the ECC in 2012.