DOBBS FERRY, NY – Sophomore transfer midfielder Jason Mayorga's first goal of the season with just under three minutes left to play in the first overtime made the visting No. 3 seed, University of the District of Columbia, a 3-2 winner vs. No. 2 Mercy College in the East Coast Conference semifinals Tuesday afternoon at Mercy Athletic Field.
The Firebirds (14-5), playing in their first ever ECC Championship Tournament, will now advance to the ECC Championship Final where they will take on top seed LIU Post in Brookville, NY on Friday, November 3rd.
UDC, which had surrendered back-to-back goals in the 2nd half, including the equalizer on a penalty kick with just three seconds remaining in regulation, had neither momentum nor history on its side heading into the extra session. The Firebirds were 0-9-11 in overtime games going back to their last overtime win in 2011, but Mayorga's blast off of a gorgeous cross by junior midfielder Kelvin Hererra ended that spell today.
A much more evenly-played contest than the regular season meeting (when UDC erupted for five first half goals and cruised to a 5-0 victory on its home field back on September 16th), the Firebirds and Mavericks were even in shots (18), though UDC put nine shots on goal compared to four by Mercy. The Mavericks, however, doubled-up UDC, 6-3 in corner kicks.
Sophomore goalkeeper Joao Brusamolin (8-4) earned the complete game victory by stopping one of three shots faced. Mercy's Kwantarian Van der Lara (13-5) made six saves and allowed three goals in the loss.
Senior forward Raphael Pacano scored his 11th and 12th goals of the season – first putting home a cross from the left side by sophomore midfielder Gabriel Torres in the 30th minute, then cleaning up a rebound off of an initial save of Mayorga's free kick near the 60th minute.
To that point, the UDC defensive unit had only allowed one shot on goal, which Brusamolin saved to keep Mercy scoreless through more than 65 minutes of play. Finally, at the 68:30 mark, Mercy's Maximiliano Rebolledo-Camus got around a Firebird defender and lifted a shot from just outside the box over the head of Brusamolin to put the Mavericks on the board, and breathe some life into the Mercy home crowd by cutting the UDC lead in half, 2-1.
Mercy, which was a perfect 7-0 at home this regular season and winners of 10 of its last 11 games, continued to apply pressure, out-shooting UDC, 5-1 and taking two corner kicks over the next 20 minutes before finally breaking through for the equalizer. The Mavericks scored the game-tying goal on a penalty kick by Manuel Achondo with only three seconds remaining after a hand ball was called on a UDC player defending on a corner kick placed inside the box during the final seconds of regulation. Achondo's goal sent the game to overtime.
The Mavericks took the first two shots of the overtime session, missing high and left, respectively, and then freshman defender Pablo Basarte took a crack for UDC just past the 96-minute mark, but was off the mark.
Just one minute later, however, Hererra led a Firebird breakaway and sent a cross into the middle of the field for Mayorga who beat Mercy goalkeeper Kwantarian Van der Lara to the upper right corner of the net to send UDC to victory.
Next up for UDC is the twice-reigning ECC champion, No. 5 ranked team in the nation and top team in the East Region, LIU Post for the ECC title on Friday (time is TBD). The Firebirds will look to avenge a 4-3 overtime loss to the Pioneers at home during the regular season where they led 3-1 in the second half before surrendering three unanswered goals. UDC is 0-6-1 against LIU Post since joining the ECC in 2012, although, three of the six losses have come by only one goal.