GREENWOOD, S.C. — Fourth-seeded Wingate scored three goals in the first 20 minutes of action to knock off fifth-seeded Montevallo 3-1 in the opening round of the NCAA Southeast regional on Friday at Lander. The Bulldogs moved on to the second round to play regional host and top-seeded Lander on Sunday at 2 p.m.
Wingate (11-5-1) beat the Bearcats 1-0 back on Sept. 12 at the WU Soccer Complex. Montevallo ends its season at 13-5-2.
“I’m very proud of our team,” Wingate head coach Gary Hamill said.”It was a disappointing end to the regular season and it would have been very easy not to compete [Friday], but the mood has been good every since Monday night. We were able to jump on them early with three good goals and even though we had to defend heavily the last 20 minutes, it was a well deserved win.”
Wingate managed just one goal in its final four matches of the season, but the Bulldogs, who start seven underclassmen, didn’t show any nerves in the early moments on Friday. Freshman all-conference defender Victor Tozelli netted his first career goal just 2:27 into the match to give Wingate a lead it would not surrender. Junior midfielder Gui Andrade served a corner into the box for his fourth assist on the season.
The Bulldogs would add to the lead 17 minutes later thanks to an unassisted goal from sophomore Peron Da Silva. Da Silva put away a loose ball inside the box, scoring his team-leading sixth goal of the season, it was his first since Oct. 6. Wingate added its third and final goal of the night in the 20th minute to take a 3-0 lead. Freshman midfielder Sean Gadsby headed home his first career goal on a cross to the back post from Andrade.
Montevallo turned up the pressure in the final 25 minutes of the first half, taking three shots and five corner kicks, but Wingate sophomore goalkeeper Daniel DeGraff kept the clean sheet into the halftime break.
The Falcons got on the board six minutes into the second half to make it 3-1. Montevallo freshman forward Pierrie Omanga scored on a pentaly kick after a Wingate hand ball. DeGraff finished with two saves, while Falcon goalkeeper Brenden Ledgeway finished with one stop.
Wingate was outshot 12-7 in the match, including 9-1 in the second half. The Bulldogs had a 4-3 advantage on shots on goal while Montevallo had a 12-2 advantage on corner kicks.
The Bulldogs picked up their second NCAA win in the last four seasons, both against Peach Belt Conference teams. Wingate beat Flagler 4-0 in 2009 before falling in the second round. The Bulldogs are the only South Atlantic Conference team to advance into the second round.
Hamill expects another great contest with the Bearcats on Sunday.
“Lander is a good side and will be another tough test for us,” Hamill said. “They are well rested but we have momentum that we are going to ride into the match and we will approach it the same way as [Friday].”