INDIANAPOLIS – The University of the District of Columbia Firebirds have earned the school's first ever NCAA Division II Men's Soccer Tournament berth as a No. 5 seed in the East Regional Tournament.
The Firebirds (14-6) will square off against No. 4 seed Southern Connecticut State University on Thursday, November 9th at 1 p.m. at Pioneer Soccer Park on the campus of No. 1 seed LIU Post in Brookville, NY. Should UDC win, it will advance to play the host Pioneers on Saturday, November 11th at 1 p.m.
UDC has enjoyed the program's best season since 2002, with the Firebirds tying for 3rd on the all-time single-season wins list, setting a new school record with six East Coast Conference wins, and advancing to the Finals in the school's first ever ECC Championship Tournament appearance.
The Firebirds boast the East Coast Conference Offensive Player of the Year - sophomore midfielder Gabriel Torres - and a total of seven All-ECC selections, including: junior defender Michael Agboola (1st Team), senior forward Raphael Pacano (2nd Team), junior midfielder Kelvin Hererra (2nd Team), sophomore midfielder Jason Mayorga (2nd Team), freshman midfielder Gabriel Velluto (3rd Team) and senior defender, Victor Salinas Furio (3rd Team).
Torres currently ranks 2nd in NCAA Division II for total points scored (49), 3rd for goals with 19, and tied for 8th with 11 assists. He also leads the ECC with seven game-winning goals this year. The Salvador, Brazil native is supported by Pacano (12 goals, two assists) and Hererra (three goals, six assists).
Meanwhile, UDC features a strong defensive unit that has forced five shutout victories and held opponents to one goal or less in 12 of 20 games this season. That unit is anchored by Agboola, Salinas Furio, senior Thomas Alvarez, and freshman Pablo Basarte.
UDC's opponent, Southern Connecticut State, is 11-3-4 overall this season and reached the semifinals of the Northeast 10 Tournament before falling to Merrimack College, 3-1. In legendary head coach Tom Lang's 20-year tenure, the Owls have qualified for 12 NCAA Division II Tournaments, including back-to-back National Championships in 1998 and 1999. This is SCSU's first appearance in the NCAA Division II Tournament since 2014.
The Owls feature six All-Northeast 10 selections, including the Rookie of the Year, defender Nicolas Colodrero. The freshman solidified a back line for SCSU that cut their goals allowed in half from last year to this season, and he was a First Team All-Conference selection. Offensively, the Owls look to senior forward Louis Greenway Tambini – a First Team All-Northeast 10 honoree who has registered 33 points on 14 goals and five assists while accounting for six game-winning goals this season.
In other East Regional action Thursday, No. 6 seed Goldey-Beacom College – the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference champion – will take on No. 3 seed Merrimack College at Motamed Field on the campus of Adelphi University in Garden City, NY. The winner of that game will stay at Adelphi to challenge the No. 2 seeded Panthers on Saturday.