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Bumbut's Goal Propels Liberty Past Winthrop, 1-0
With the win, the Flames, who entered the week ranked No. 8 in the South Atlantic Region, start their conference slate at 2-0 and run their overall record to 6-1-1 on the year. Meanwhile, the defending conference champion and preseason conference favorite Eagles fall to 1-1 in the Big South and 5-2-1 overall. Winthrop entered the week as the region's No. 6 team.
Liberty is unbeaten in its last four matches, posting a 3-0-1 mark during the span. In addition, the Flames have recorded five shutouts in eight matches so far this season.
Liberty got off to a quick start, notching the game's lone goal less than six minutes in the contest. On a loose ball around the Winthrop penalty area, the Eagle goalkeeper collided into and fouled a pursuing Bumbut (Sr., F, Zalau, Romania), resulting in a free kick for Liberty. On the ensuing free kick just outside the penalty box, Bumbut lifted the ball over the Winthrop wall of defenders and into the upper left corner of the net for a 1-0 Liberty advantage at 5:42.
After the Flames' marker, the first half settled into a defensive battle over the remaining 40 minutes. Most of the action in the period was in the neutral zone, with few quality shot opportunities for either team. For the half, Liberty edged Winthrop in the shot column, 5-4.
Winthrop's first shot of the contest came in the 28th minute, off the foot of Miguel Casajuana, forcing a save by Liberty keeper Paul Gilbert (Fr., GK, Rockvale, Tenn.). Defender John Gilkerson added two more attempts in the last five minutes of the opening period. Liberty countered with shot attempts by Bumbut and Joshua Boateng (Jr., MF, Accra, Ghana).
In the second half, both goalkeepers made outstanding saves to keep the score at 1-0, Flames. At 54:13, Liberty found midfielder Juan Guzman (So, Charlotte, N.C.) open on the left side of the penalty area for a shot, but Eagle netminder Patrick Mitrovich turned the attempt away with a sliding kick save. Less than 30 seconds later, the Eagles' Saidi Isaac found space for a shot, and Gilbert snatched away the blast to keep Winthrop scoreless.
Liberty put pressure on the Eagle net in the 72nd minute. Off a corner kick, Bumbut pounced on a loose ball and whistled a shot towards the far post, which Winthrop defender Otto Lowey kicked away to prevent another Flames score.
Two minutes later, Liberty found an open Justin Willoughby (Sr., F, Greenville, S.C.) in the middle of the penalty area, but his shot sailed high over the net.
In the last 10 minutes of play, the Eagles had two opportunities to tie the contest, but each time the Flames' defense held. A Sean Weron shot at 82:02 was high, and at 85:21, Winthrop had a corner kick which Liberty cleared.
On the afternoon, the host Flames held a 10-8 edge in shots and a 3-2 advantage in corner kicks.
Liberty goalkeeper Gilbert had four saves in the game and recorded his fifth shutout in the Flames' net this season. Winthrop's Mitrovich matched Gilbert with four saves of his own.
The victory was Liberty's sixth-straight triumph over Winthrop at Liberty Soccer Field. The Flames have not lost at home to the Eagles since 1994.
Liberty travels to Chapel Hill, N.C., on Tuesday for a non-conference match with the North Carolina Tar Heels. Game time at Fetzer Field is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.