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Liberty Falls to N.C. State in Season Opener, 2-0
With the third-largest crowd ever to watch a Liberty soccer game in attendance, the visiting N.C. State Wolfpack scored a goal in each half, en route a season-opening 2-0 victory over the Flames, Friday evening at Osborne Stadium.
A crowd of 1,783 was in attendance for the contest, the largest crowd to attend a game at Osborne Stadium since Oct. 12, 2010, when No. 2 North Carolina defeated Liberty, 2-0.
Liberty, the defending Big South Champion, drops to 0-1 on the year. N.C. State moves to 1-0.
The host Flames weathered early pressure from the Wolfpack less than seven minutes into the contest's opening half. The visitors set up a shot from the left side of the 18-yard box for forward Monbo Bokar, which Liberty goalkeeper Sam Chappell turned away easily.
The Flames forced a save from N.C. State keeper Fabian Otte during the 28th minute. After a defender blocked a shot attempt by defender Uriah Bentick, forward Sachem Wilson ripped an attempt from the left side of the penalty area. However, Otte stepped up and made the save, keeping the game scoreless.
The two teams exchanged shots during the middle of the first half. Chappell stopped a shot by the Wolfpack's leading scorer from a year ago, forward Nazmi Albadawi, during the the 27th minute. Otte snatched a header by Flames' midfielder Tim Harbison off a crossing pass in the 28th minute.
With the contest looking like it was headed to halftime scoreless, N.C. State netted its first goal of the game in the 44th minute. A miscommunication by the Liberty defense led to a giveaway, which Albadawi scooped up and tallied from 20 yards off the left side for a 1-0 Wolfpack advantage at intermission.
The second half opened with Liberty catching N.C. State in transition during the opening minute of the second half. Liberty's Wilson moved in to open field for a blast from 25 yards out on the left side of the field, which hit the crossbar and bounded over. Haribson followed during the 48th minute, dropping a header wide of the net.
The contest then settled into the midfield. Neither squad was able to mount many scoring opportunities.
With the Flames pushing forward looking for the equalizer, Wolfpack midfielder Alex Martinez moved behind the Liberty defense, gaining the 18-yard box and feeding a pass across the goal mouth to Bokar. The forward tapped the ball into the open net to give N.C. State what turned out to be the final score of 2-0.
Both Wilson and Bentick got off shot attempts in the latter stages of the contest, but were unable to score. Wilson's shot in the 86th minute sailed high over the goal, while Bentick's attempt in the 87th minute was turned away by Otte.
Liberty outshot N.C. State, 11-8, in the game, while the Wolfpack held a 5-3 advantage in corner kicks.
Chappell, making his first collegiate start, made three saves in the Liberty net. Otte recorded three saves for N.C. State.
Liberty next opens Big South play by visiting the newest member of the conference, Longwood, on Sept. 1. Match time at the Longwood Athletics Complex is scheduled for 7 p.m.