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Liberty Falls in Big South Title Game, 2-0
The No. 1 seed Coastal Carolina Chanticleers scored twice in the second half to defeat the No. 7 seed Liberty Flames, 2-0, in the Big South Men's Soccer Championship Final, Sunday afternoon at Bryan Park Soccer Complex.
Liberty was the first No. 7 seed to reach the conference's title game since 1992. The Flames finish their season at 11-9.
Coastal Carolina, who is currently ranked No. 12 in the country, receives the conference's automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament and moves to 17-4 on the year.
After Liberty cleared a Coastal Carolina corner kick during the sixth minute, play settled into the midfield with neither generating a quality scoring chance until the 17th minute. Chanticleer midfielder Pedro Ribeirio got free at the top of the 18-yard box and lifted a shot which Flames goalkeeper Scott Sutarik knocked down and smothered.
The Liberty keeper would get involved again two minutes later. During the 19th minute, a pass put Coastal Carolina forward Sergio Carmargo one-on-one with Sutarik. The Flames' goalkeeper batted down the ball and quickly pounced on the deflection to keep the contest scoreless.
During the 25th minute, Liberty pressure resulted in a corner kick. The kick found the head of midfielder Blessing Tahuouna, who sent a shot toward the open right side of the net, forcing a Chanticleers defender to clear it off the goal line to prevent a goal.
Three minutes later, a shot by Liberty forward Victor Portillo hit the post. The Coastal Carolina defense then cleared the loose ball to relieve pressure on its net.
The half ended with a shot wide from the right side of the six-yard box during the 41st minute and a shot high in the 43rd minute by Coastal Carolina's Jakub Stourc.
Coastal Carolina outshot Liberty, 12-4, and also held the edge in corner kicks, 4-1, during the first half.
The second half opened with the Flames receiving a free kick 30 yards out on the left side of the field less than five minutes into the period. The kick was lofted to the far right post, but got through untouched by either team.
Coastal Carolina's Ribeirio lifted a shot from the right side of the 18-yard box during the 56th minute. Sutarik dove out and made the save.
The Chanticleers broke through for a goal at 59:26. A crossing pass into the box was knocked down by midfielder Kevin Le Bras and onto the foot of forward Ricky Garbanzo, who scored his 12th goal of the season for a 1-0 Coastal Carolina advantage.
The score was the first goal the Flames had allowed during their last 239:26 of play. Liberty had shutout No. 2 seed High Point and No. 3 seed Longwood in victories to advance to title game.
During the 63rd minute, Sutarik thwarted an attempt by Ribeirio off a Coastal Carolina corner kick. The Liberty goalkeeper smothered the attempt, holding Liberty's deficit to one.
The Flames created a scoring chance in transition during the 71st minute. A crossing pass found the head of forward Tyler Bullock. However, Chanticleers goalkeeper Devin Cook plucked the ball out of the air to prevent the score.
A minute later, Coastal Carolina extended its lead to 2-0. Midfielder Matt Risher pushed a long pass down the left side of the field and into the box. The pass deflected off a Liberty defender and got free for Stourc, who tapped in for his fifth goal of the year at 71:12.
During the closing 20 minutes, the Flames pushed their attack forward, but were unable to mount a comeback. A header high by midfielder Tanner Wilcox during the 86th minute may have been Liberty best scoring opportunity down the stretch.
Coastal Carolina held a 22-7 shot advantage and a 7-1 edge in corner kicks.
Liberty's Sutarik, who named to the Big South All-Tournament team, made four saves. Cook recorded two saves for Coastal Carolina.
Flames joining Sutarik on the all-tournament team were midfielder Juan Nino and defender Sam Duininck.