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Liberty Uses Penalty Kick to Down Gardner-Webb, 1-0
Midfielder Tim Harbison converted a penalty kick midway through the first half, pushing the Liberty Flames to a 1-0 victory over the Gardner-Webb Runnin' Bulldogs, Saturday afternoon at Greene-Harbison Field in a Big South Conference match.
After a hand ball inside the 18-yard box by the host Bulldogs, Harbison scored the lone goal on the ensuing penalty kick at 27:02. The contest's only goal was Harbison's third marker of the season and gave Liberty an advantage it never relinquished.
Flames' goalkeeper Scott Sutarik made four saves in the contest to record his third shutout of the year. With the shutout, Sutarik ties Dean Short for third place on the program's career list with 19 shutouts.
With the win, Liberty snaps a two-game losing streak, moving to 6-3-1 overall and 1-2 in Big South play. Gardner-Webb drops to 0-2-1 in conference play and 1-8-1 overall.
Despite being outshot in the first half, 8-3, the Flames went to halftime with a 1-0 edge. Sutarik made three saves in half. The Liberty keeper squelched the best scoring opportunity of the opening period for Gardner-Webb during the 27th minute. Ali Al-Gashamy ran behind a long pass lofted from midfield and lifted a shot which Sutarik smothered to prevent a score.
Moments later, Liberty's Harbison scored the game's lone goal.
In the second half, the Flames used tight defense to keep the host Bulldogs off the scoreboard and seal the victory. Gardner-Webb fired 10 shots during the period, but Sutarik was only forced to make one save. Meanwhile, Liberty attempted 11 shots in the final half.
Sutarik turned away a shot by Bulldog Dustin Peyton during the 67th minute. Peyton attempted a shot from the right side from 19 yards out, which Sutarik grabbed for a save.
With Gardner-Webb looking for the equalizer, Liberty midfielder Blessing Tahuona came free during 81st minute for an attempt. Tahuona was able to get behind a defender and rip a shot from the left corner of the box, which Bulldog goalkeeper Matthew Swan was able to stop to keep the Flames from extending their lead.
In the final minute, Gardner-Webb received a free kick from the right side of the field 30 yards out. But, Al-Gashmy's kick was high over the goal, sealing Liberty's 1-0 victory.
Gardner-Webb held an 18-13 advantage in shots, while corner kicks were even at four apiece.
While Sutarik made four saves in the contest, Swan recorded three for Gardner-Webb.
Liberty returns home, Tuesday. The Flames will host No. 20 ranked American in a non-conference match at Osborne Stadium. Match time is scheduled for 6 p.m.