WASHINGTON, DC – Elvin Arbaiza's goal with nine seconds remaining in double-overtime lifted the host University of the District of Columbia men's soccer team to a breathtaking, 2-1 East Coast Conference victory Sunday afternoon vs. Molloy College.
The clock was stopped with 21 seconds remaining to set up for a Firebirds free kick along the left sideline from just beyond midfield. Senior defender Thomas Alvarez dropped a beautiful free kick into the middle of the box, which was headed by sophomore defender Pablo Basarte to the left side of the box and a waiting Arbaiza, who booted the ball straight into the left corner of the net for the gamewinner.
The Firebirds improved to 3-5-1 overall and 1-2 in league play with today's win, while Molloy fell to 2-8 and 0-4 in the ECC.
UDC, anxious to get back into the win column after three consecutive one-goal losses, out-shot Molloy, 27-9, including an 11-3 disparity in shots on goal. Still, the Firebirds were frustrated all day by the stellar goalkeeping of the Lions' Raul Bonilla, who stopped nine of 11 shots he faced in a complete game effort.
The hosts jumped out to a 1-0 lead nearly 20 minutes in when senior forward Raphael Pacano scored his first goal of the season on a well-placed cross by All-American midfielder Gabriel Torres. Although UDC out-shot its host, 10-5 in the first half, and the Firebirds had the majority of the quality scoring chances throughout the 45-minute span, Molloy managed to even the score just minutes before halftime, on its only shot on goal of the period – an unassisted goal by Angelo Bordenca.
UDC continued to be the way more productive team on the offensive end throughout the second half, out-shooting the Lions, 13-3, but neither team could manage the go-ahead goal before the end of regulation.
Neither team could even generate a shot attempt in the first overtime, but a maddening day for the Firebirds nearly ended in disaster on a breakaway attempt by the Lions with about 1:30 remaining. Molloy's Anthony Cestaro looked to have a clear path to the goal when he was upended by a cleanly-executed slide tackle to save the day by senior midfielder Kelvin Herrera.
The Firebirds nearly broke the tie just before the 108th minute in the 2nd overtime when Pacano, from about 18 yards out, had one of his six shots of the day clang off the crossbar. With only about two minutes remaining, and the Lions stampeding down the other end of the field, it looked as though the best UDC could hope for was to preserve a tie.
Molloy attempted just its 3rd shot on goal of the day with just over a minute left in the 2nd overtime period. UDC freshman goalkeeper easily stopped Nikola Aleksic's header shot for his 2nd save of the game, and he quickly threw the outlet pass out to Gabriel Torres so he could immediately start working the ball back up the field as the clock approached one minute.
Ultimately, Torres drew a foul right around midfield along the left sideline, which led the way for Alvarez's free-kick and Arbaiza's late-game heroics. The game-winning goal was the senior transfer's first of the year, and only his 4th shot this season.
Next up, UDC will host ECC foe University of Bridgeport on Wed., Oct. 3 at 3 p.m.