WILMINGTON, North Carolina – Freshman midfielder Kalvin Kromer (Green Hope H.S./Cary, N.C.) and junior midfielder Daniel Escobar (Cali, Colombia) each scored a goal in the second half to lead UNCW (13-4-2) to a 2-0 victory over Bucknell University (10-10-3) in the first round of the NCAA Division I Men's Soccer Championship at UNCW Soccer Stadium on Thursday evening.
The Seahawks, who earned the first NCAA Tournament win in program history, will advance to the second round and will play at 16th-seeded Virginia on Sunday, Nov. 23 at 1 p.m.
“It was a really special night for us,” UNCW Coach Aiden Heaney said. “The support we got from the student body and campus community was really great and we fed off that energy.”
After a scoreless first half, the Seahawks took a 1-0 lead in the 67th minute when Kromer took a crossing pass from junior defender Michael Mecham (Blacksburg H.S./Blacksburg, Va.) and scored on a 15-yard shot inside the far post.
“It was nice to get that first goal because once we did, we knew we could get another one,” Kromer said.
Just over a minute later, UNCW upped the advantage to 2-0 when Escobar received a pass off the end line from junior forward Colin Bonner (Reservoir H.S./Fulton, Md.) and scored on a shot from the middle of the penalty area for his first goal of the season.
Led by sophomore goalkeeper Sean Melvin (Victoria, British Columbia, Canada), the Seahawk defense limited Bucknell to just three shots to earn the victory.
“We are happy with the win but the expectations are higher for all of us,” said senior defender Jacob VanCompernolle. “I don't think there is a sense of relief after getting the win.
“It's all about recovery for us now,” VanCompernolle added. “Virginia will have fresh legs and it will be a tough game. But, we will work hard and do our best to advance.”
• Thursday's match-up marked the first-ever meeting between the Seahawks and the Bison in men's soccer … It also marked Bucknell's first visit to the State of North Carolina since the 1997 season when the Bison lost by a 3-1 margin at Davidson.
• UNCW improved to 1-1-1 all-time in NCAA Tournament games … The Seahawks are making their second appearance in the tournament after reaching the second round in 2009.
• Bucknell was making its seventh all-time appearance in the NCAA Tournament … With Thursday's loss, the Bison are now 3-7-0 all-time in the tournament.
• UNCW earned its eighth shutout of the season on Thursday night … Over the last five matches, they have a 4-1-0 record with four shutouts.
• Bucknell had a seven-match unbeaten streak snapped with Thursday's loss … The Bison, who posted a 4-0-3 record during that span, had not lost since a 4-1 setback at No. 5 Syracuse on Oct. 21.
• Bucknell was held to a season-low three shots, which also marked the fewest shots allowed by UNCW this season … The Bison were also limited to just one shot on goal, setting a season low.
• UNCW set a season high with 20 shots against the Bison … In addition, the Seahawks had a season-high 11 shots on goal.
• The Seahawks improved to 6-3-1 at home this season.
• Melvin made his first start since Oct. 8 against Charleston when he guided the Seahawks to a 2-0 victory over the Cougars … Melvin is now 10-2-1 this season with a 0.82 goals against average.
• A crowd of 2,020 fans, including over 1,000 students, attended the game on Thursday night … It is the second time this season the Seahawks have played in front of a crowd of 2,000 or more fans.
Men's College Soccer NCAA First Round: UNCW 2, Bucknell 0
Bucknell (10-10-3) 0 0 - 0
UNCW (13-4-2) 0 2 - 2
Goals: BU – n/a; UNCW – Kalvin Kromer (66:24), Daniel Escobar (67:40). Assists: BU – n/a; UNCW – Michael Mecham, Colin Bonner. Saves: BU – Clarke Fox 8 (90:00, 2 goals allowed), TEAM 1; UNCW – Sean Melvin 1 (90:00, 0 goals allowed). Shots: BU – 3; UNCW – 20. Corner Kicks: BU – 4; UNCW – 5. Attendance: 2,020.