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Firebirds Fall 2-1 in Overtime Heartbreaker at STAC

Milton Diaz had three saves in goal and he assisted the Firebirds' lone goal of the day.
Milton Diaz had three saves in goal and he assisted the Firebirds' lone goal of the day.

SPARKILL, NY – The University of the District of Columbia was defeated on the road in overtime, 2-1 by East Coast Conference foe St. Thomas Aquinas College on Saturday afternoon at Spartan Field.

The Firebirds (6-8-1, 4-4 ECC) led 1-0 for 84 minutes of regulation before surrendering the game-tying goal with 30 seconds left in regulation. STAC (10-3-1, 6-2 ECC) then added the gamewinner with just under three minutes left to play in the extra session.

Senior forward Raphael Pacano scored his 4th goal of the week just over five minutes into regulation to give visiting UDC an early 1-0 lead. Junior forward Malik Thom and freshman goalkeeper Milton Diaz were each credited with assists on the goal.

The two teams combined for only eight shots in the first half, but UDC took a 1-0 lead into halftime.

The Spartans came out very aggressive in the 2nd half, taking the first eight shots once play resumed. Two of those shots were on goal, but Diaz saved both. Senior All-American Gabriel Torres took UDC's first and only shot of the 2nd half at the 76:49 mark, but his shot was wide left.

STAC eventually broke through on its 11th and final shot of the closing half. Jack Nicholson, the senior veteran goalkeeper who was playing all the way up in the UDC box, headed in a long throw-in from the right corner by Brad Neal, evening the score at 1-1 at the 89:30 mark, and ultimately sending the game to overtime. The goal was the first of his career.

In the overtime, sophomore Michel Egbame made a great move to get around a Spartan defender on the right wing and sent in a cross for a waiting Pacano. The senior forward one-timed the pass, but fired right at Nicholson, who was easily able to corral it for the save. Pacano also had a header shot that was saved a few minutes later.

STAC managed to score on its first and only shot of the overtime period. Lachlan Wilkinson poked the ball away from a UDC player about 20 yards from midfield in the Firebirds' half, and he alertly chased the ball down and began the breakaway. Wilkinson then split two UDC defenders with a pass to a cutting George Yusuff in the box, and when Diaz came running out of the goal to try to defend the play, Yusuff snuck a shot underneath and to Diaz's right which rolled in for the game-winning goal.

The Firebirds return home where they are a perfect, 4-0, on Tuesday, October 23rd to host non-conference opponent, Lock Haven University. UDC will honor 10 seniors before the game.