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NEWARK, Del. - - A pair of late second half goals pushed the Wilmington University men's soccer team to a much needed 2-1 nonconference victory over LIU Post at the WU Athletics Complex on Wednesday afternoon.
Having dropped down to No. 10 in this week's United Soccer Coaches East Region Poll, the Wildcats (8-1-4) needed a result over No. 7 LIU Post (8-3) to keep momentum heading into the final portion of the regular season. Two goals in the final 12 minutes flipped the script and gave the Wildcats their first ever victory over the Pioneers. They were winless in their previous seven matches against LIU Post.
Despite a scoreless opening 45 minutes, the Wildcats had the best opportunity before heading in the break. Dominican Folarin found Matt Paranczak in the middle of the penalty box, but Paranczak's low shot from 10 yards was stuffed by Matias Pesallaccia with 2:18 showing on the clock. The Wildcats went into the break with a 5-3 advantage in shots.
But LIU Post was the team that came out fast in the second half, as they produced two corners in the opening 1:31. They would strike first with their first shot moments later.
Tom Stenberg played a centering through ball from midfield, finding Lukas Ostermann who slid one under a charging Vinny Tasca from 12 yards out for the 1-0 lead in the 48th minute.
The Wildcats started to press, but didn't get any true chances until their tied the game in the 79th minute. Playing down the middle of the field, Manuel Ruiz Luque played the ball forward to Dimitrios Anastasiou who touched a ball to Tom Garratt at the top of the box. He played one more ball to Davion Wedderburn on the left side who slid it under the goalie to tie the match, 1-1, with 11:49 remaining.
Wilmington kept the pressure on and it paid off in the 85th minute. Ben Jordan and Sam Jester raced down the left side with a build up from midfield. Jester got into the box and ripped a left footed shot that was saved, going for the rebound, he was elbowed up high and taken down, drawing a penalty kick. Will Stone buried the opportunity for his fifth of the season to take a 2-1 lead with 5:22 to play in regulation.
The Pioneers had one last ditch effort down the stretch, earning a pair of corner kicks in the final two minutes. Khalid Al Saud had a header on the second, but it sailed high with 1:11 left, which proved to be their final chance.
The Wildcats outshot the Pioneers, 12-7, for the match despite LIU Post earning more corners, 6-1. Vinny Tasca made two saves for the win while Matias Pesallaccia made four stops in the loss.
The Wildcats have four Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference matches left in the regular season, starting with Bloomfield on Saturday at home. The Wildcats and Bears will start following the women's game at approximately 2:30 p.m. at the WU Athletics Complex.