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Goal in 81st Minute Propels Liberty Past Georgia State in Season Opener
Liberty midfielder Jonatan Torres scored the game's lone goal with less than eight minutes left, pushing the Flames men's soccer team to a 1-0 victory over the Georgia State Panthers, Friday at GSU Soccer Complex. The contest was the season opener for both teams.
Liberty received a solid performance from goalkeeper Scott Sutarik, who made seven saves, the second-most in his career.
The Flames move to 1-0 on the year, while Georgia State drops to 0-1. It was the first meeting between the two teams since 1990.
Sutarik and the Liberty defense were strong early. The host Panthers sent a flurry of shots at the Flames' net over the first 34 minutes of play, only to come away empty. During the stretch, Sutarik made three saves, two on corner kicks by Georgia State, keeping the game scoreless.
Liberty pressured the Panther defense in the 19th minute. Liberty had an opportunity on a corner kick, but came away empty. Later in the 36th minute, Flames midfielder Tim Harbison pushed a shot attempt wide.
Sutarik turned away two more shots in the final minutes of the first half, sending the game to intermission at 0-0.
In the second half, Liberty began to find its stride on the offensive end. After Sutarik's sixth save in the 59th minute, Harbison and Torres ripped back-to-back shots at the Panthers' net, forcing two saves by Georgia State keeper C.J. Cochran around the 61st minute.
At 80:32, Torres netted the game's lone goal. Defender Jamie Foxwell sent a crossing pass from 17 yards out in front of the net for the senior midfielder, who put it into the back of the net for what proved to be the final score of 1-0.
Once again, Sutarik came up with another save in the 84th minute. Off a corner kick, the junior corralled a header by Andrew Webber, keeping the Flames in front.
The Liberty defense then cleared two corner kicks without a shot in the waning minutes, sealing the win.
Georgia State held the edge in shots, 14-7, and in corner kicks, 9-3.
Sutarik posted his highest save total in a contest since making a career-high eight stops in a 1-0 victory over Campbell on Oct. 5, 2012 at Liberty's East Campus Fields. The shutout was the junior's 12th of his career. Cochran recorded two saves for the Panthers.
Liberty will take to home turf for its next outing, next Friday. The Flames will host the IUPUI Jaguars in their home opener at Osborne Stadium. Match time is scheduled for 6 p.m.