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Liberty Falls at High Point, 3-1
The High Point Panthers defeated the Liberty Flames, 3-1, in a Big South Conference men's soccer match, Tuesday evening at Vert Stadium.
Tim Harbison netted a penalty kick for his first goal of the season for Liberty's lone goal in the 88th minute.
Liberty drops to 1-3 in Big South play and 4-4 overall. High Point moves to 1-0-1 in conference play and 3-5-1 overall.
High Point struck for the contest's first goal less than two minutes into the match. Midfielder Colscon Wiley gained the top left corner of the 18-yard box and lofted a crossing pass to the far post. Panthers forward Mamadee Nyepon, the Big South Conference's leading goal scorer, headed the pass into the open left side of the net for his ninth goal of the year and a 1-0 High Point advantage.
After exchanging possession during the next 20 minutes, Liberty began to push for the equalizer, firing four unanswered shots over the next five minutes of play. The Flames' best scoring opportunity of the sequence came off the foot of forward Kyle Breitmeyer, who ripped a shot from the top, right corner of the box. The attempt forced a diving deflection by High Point goalkeeper Ryan Massey to keep it out of the net and the Panthers in front.
During the 35th minute, Liberty goalkeeper Scott Sutarik made a strong save, stopping a header of a crossing pass by Renato Punyed.
The Flames closed the half with another scoring opportunity during the 42nd minute. Off a drop pass by defender Sam Duininck, midfielder Victor Portillo lined a shot from the top of the 18-yard box, forcing another diving save by Massey.
Liberty held an 8-3 advantage over High Point in shots and a 3-0 edge in corner kicks during the opening 45 minutes.
The Flames started the second half with strong pressure on the Panther defense. The pressure resulted in a corner kick during the 54th minute. Midfielder Jonatan Torres inserted the kick into center of the box, where midfielder Sachem Wilson sent a header towards the left side. A High Point defender ranged back and headed the ball away from the far post to prevent the score.
In the 59th minute, the host Panthers counter-attacked, freeing Nyepon. The High Point forward pushed a low shot, which Sutarik deflected away. Liberty then relieved the pressure by clearing the ensuing corner kick.
During the 64th minute, the Panthers scored on their third consecutive corner kick to extend their advantage to 2-0. Midfielder Adam Sewell's header found the lower, left corner for his first goal of the year.
Five minutes later, High Point upped its lead. Off a free kick, Nyepon headed in his second goal of the night. His 10th goal of the year gave the Panthers a 3-0 edge.
In the 74th minute, Liberty's Breitmeyer beat two High Point defenders and came free at the top of the 18-yard box. The forward ripped a shot off the left post and the rebound was quickly cleared.
The Flames' push for a goal continued over the final 16 minutes. Liberty was able to create three shots and keep pressure on the Panther defense. A foul in the box by High Point in the 88th minute resulted in a penalty kick. Harbison converted the kick for what proved to be the final score of 3-1.
The Flames held a 15-9 advantage in shots. Corner kicks were even at 5-5.
Sutarik made three saves, before leaving in the 69th minute due to an injury. Sam Chappell recorded a save by playing the final 21 minutes in the Liberty goal. Massey made five saves for the Panthers.
Liberty will now have an eight-day break, before returning to action on Oct. 9. The Flames will travel to Davidson for a non-conference match. Game time is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.