ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – Sixth-seeded UNC-Pembroke rallied back from a 2-0 deficit with an overtime goal to upset third-seeded Mars Hill 3-2 on Thursday in the opening game of the NCAA tournament.
Tomter connected on UNCP’s (12-5-1) second shot in overtime as he kicked the cross pass from senior Michael Smith for the final score of the match. With the win, the Braves have now matched the third-best finish in 20 years with 12 wins – the best win total during the Phil Hindson era.
“It was a fantastic comeback by the guys” Hindson said. “It was just an outstanding effort. We really wanted to go after them in overtime and we did. It was theirs for the taking.”
At the 79:55 mark, sophomore Matt MacDougall put Mars Hill (14-3-3) in an arduous situation as he collected the ball inside the box and, in an effort to clear the ball, the Lions’ Andres Diaz gave UNCP its first goal of the game.
Less than six minutes later, junior Daniel Bougt notched his first goal of the season as he rebounded the ball and knocked the shot into the back of the net for the equalizer that sent the match into extra minutes.
Mars Hill scored the game’s first goal in the 36th minute as Felipe Ferraro sent a pass from the far post to Alex Mullen, who used a header to bring the Lions forward 1-0. Mars Hill scored again in the second half on Stephen Bivens’ 11th goal of the season as he kicked the ball into the right corner of the net on the cross pass by Gregg Munn.
“We were disappointed to be down 2-0 because we didn’t think we deserved [to] be down. We went through a lull throughout the first period, but then the guys opened the door and started creating chances. The keeper made some really good saves and they had a couple good shots off the line. Then when we got the first goal. I think the guys really sensed blood, then we got the second score and I really thought we could win,” Hindson said.
unior Ryan Hanson kept a strong presence inside the box in the first half as he managed three saves in the first four shots of the game. He wrapped up his 92 minutes of action with six saves and an additional victory to his record in goal.
The Braves spent a majority of the first half without registering a shot. At the 33:42 mark senior Sean Hoek attempted the free kick after junior Brett Luccia was fouled at the top of the box. UNCP produced only two shots in the first half compared to Mars Hill’s seven strikes, but the Braves used the second half to outshoot the Lions 10-9.
Tomter and Hoek led the Braves with a team-best three shots each, while sophomore Sam Miles and Bougt chipped in two shots apiece. Shadi Harb posted a game-high seven shots, while Mullen and Ferraro both tallied three shots for Mars Hill.
MHC goalkeeper Zac Scott collected all four saves in the second half despite allowing three goals in a span of 13 minutes.