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Firebirds Settle for 2-2 Tie in Back-and-Forth Battle vs. Wilmington

Men's Soccer vs. Barton College, 9/13/17
Gabriel Velluto scored a goal and saved a possible game-winning goal by Wilmington near the end of regulation.

MILLERSVILLE, PA – In a battle of two NCAA Division II East Region preseason conference favorites, the University of the District of Columbia and Wilmington University played 110 minutes to a 2-2 double-overtime tie Saturday afternoon at Pucillo Field.

The East Coast Conference preseason favorite, UDC (1-0-1), fresh off a 2-0 season-opening win vs. Goldey-Beacom College on Thursday, featured goals by sophomore midfielder Gabriel Velluto and ECC Preseason Player of the Year, Gabriel Torres. Junior goalkeeper Joao Brusamolin (1-0-1) stopped six shots in a complete game effort.

The Wildcats (1-0-1), picked to win the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference this season, got a goal apiece from Fredrik Bentdal and Davion Wedderburn.

Wilmington had the advantage in shots (16-9) and corner kicks (11-3), but sound defense, outstanding goalkeeping and taking advantage of their offensive opportunities allowed the Firebirds to force the draw. A physical contest, the two teams combined for 22 fouls, 10 yellow cards and two red cards.

After a slow first half for both teams, the action picked up dramatically in the second half with four goals scored among the two teams. Velluto opened the scoring in the 51st minute, taking a long pass by Michel Egbame through the midfield and blasting a shot past WU's Vinny Tasca to give UDC a 1-0 lead.

That lead did not last long though, as just over four minutes later, Bentdal responded with a goal off a cross sent in by Dimitrios Topouzlis to force a 1-1 tie.

Almost nine minutes later, Wedderburn added an unassisted goal to put Wilmington in front, 2-1. The Wildcats were out-shooting the Firebirds, 5-2 in the closing half to that point and looked to have the momentum; however, back-to-back yellow cards assessed to WU's Callum McHale resulted in his ejection from the game, and Wilmington then had to play a man-down for the remaining 25 minutes of regulation and ultimately, both overtimes.

At that point, UDC went back to work offensively, earning a corner kick right around the 68-minute mark, and its set-piece resulted in a whistle for a Wildcats foul in the box. The Firebirds were awarded a penalty kick, where Torres has excelled throughout his career. The All-American beat Tasca for his 2nd goal of the season – both on PK's, and knotted the score, 2-2.

Neither team was able to break that 2-2 tie in the final 22 minutes of regulation despite both teams putting two shots on goal. UDC junior forward Malik Thom tried to score the gamewinner at the 83:45 mark, but Tasca was up to the task. Later, Wilmington's Sam Jester fired a shot around the 86-minute mark, but a defensive save by Velluto kept the Wildcats out of the UDC goal.

UDC out-shot WU 2-1 in the first overtime session, including a shot on goal near the end of the period by Torres, but neither team could score the golden goal in the first 10 minutes.

In the 2nd overtime period, Wilmington applied all the offensive pressure with a 5-0 shot advantage and 4-0 corner kick advantage. Still, just two of the Wildcats' shots were on goal, and Brusamolin saved both to preserve the tie.

Next up, UDC will visit non-regional opponent Barton College on Wed., Sept. 5 at Richmond, Va.