A pair of reserves scored their first career goal to help lead Wilmington University men's soccer in a nonconference victory, 2-1, over West Chester on the road on Friday afternoon.
Sophomores Juan Bernal and Steve O'Connor scored first half goals, the game-winner coming just 22 seconds after West Chester (1-2) tied the match and 40 seconds prior to halftime to give the Wildcats (2-1) the momentum into the break.
Bernal (Mississauga, Ontario/Iona Catholic) gave the Wildcats an early lead with his first career goal in a Wilmington uniform in the 16th minute. Classmate Bruno Montini assisted on the goal to put the Wildcats in front 15:43 into the match.
West Chester's Nicholas Tucci tied the match with his first goal of the season in the 44th minute, putting the home team on the scoreboard 43:58 into the match.
Just over 20 seconds later, O'Connor received a long ball from Adrian Tash in the penalty box and O'Connor stuffed it home to give the Wildcats a 2-1 lead and swing the momentum back in favor of the visitors.
"It was a really good comeback at the end of the first half to steal back the momentum," head coach Nick Papanicolas said. "It was also good to see Steven make his own comeback after hitting the post on a solid strike a minute prior to his goal. He was able to stick with it to score his first goal. All in all it was a good game. The second half was only good, not great, so we still have a lot to work on."
Zach Lee replaced starter Frank Hall in goal to start the second half for the Wildcats, and although he faced eight shots, the sophomore didn't need to make a save to secure the victory for the team. Hall made one first half save to earn the win in goal.
The Golden Rams outshot the Wildcats, 13-12, using an advantage of 8-3 in the second half to take over the stat sheet. Wilmington kicked more corners, 6-5, and put six shots on goal.
The Wildcats continue their stretch of six games in 10 days on Sunday as they travel to Dowling for another nonconference match. The opening kick is slated for 1:00 p.m.