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Bumbut's Trifecta Lifts Liberty Past High Point, 3-1
The victory moves Liberty's conference mark to 4-1 in the Big South and 9-4-2 overall. The Flames are currently second in the league's standings and the win assures them of one of the top three seeds for the upcoming Big South Men's Soccer Championship, set to begin two weeks from tomorrow. High Point falls to 1-4 in league play and 5-11-1 overall.
Liberty staked itself to a 1-0 lead just 1:36 into the opening period. Bumbut (Sr., F, Zalau, Romania) picked up a loose ball in the midfield and broke away from the Panther defense, burying a shot into the back of the net for his first goal of the night. The unassisted marker was the senior forward's ninth of the season.
The host Panthers, playing their final home contest of the year, tied the match at 14:27. Midfielder Michael Sayree beat a defender in the middle of the penalty area and pushed a shot past the keeper to even the contest at 1-1.
After the two markers in the first 15 minutes of the contest, shots came at a premium during the rest of the first half. Liberty goalkeeper Paul Gilbert (Fr., Rockvale, Tenn.) stopped three-consecutive High Point shots, the only other opportunities for the Panthers in the half, over seven-minute span midway through the period.
Meanwhile, the Flames had two chances during the half's final 30 minutes. A shot by Brandon Patterson (Sr., MF, Lakeland, Fla.) was blocked in front during the 21st minute, while a Bumbut attempt in the 32nd minute sailed high.
Liberty went on the attack in the opening minutes of the second half, quickly breaking the deadlock. Forward Justin Willoughby (Sr., Greenville, N.C.) pushed a pass in front of goal for Bumbut, who fired a shot into the left side of the net for a 2-1 Liberty advantage at the 59:19 mark.
Just 48-second later, Bumbut pounced on a loose ball in front of the Panther net and blasted his third goal of the night and 11th of the season into the upper left-hand corner to give Liberty a 3-1 edge.
Bumbut's Trifecta Lifts Liberty Past High Point – cont.
The Flames defense then took over, limiting High Point to just three late shot attempts, with only one of the attempts forcing a save by keeper Gilbert to seal the 3-1 victory.
The Flames outshot the Panthers, 14-8, in the contest and held a 3-2 edge in corner kicks.
Gilbert made four saves in the Liberty net in the game, while High Point's Corey Whisenhunt recorded two saves.
Bumbut's hat trick was the first of his Liberty career and his second multiple-goal game of the year. The senior forward netted two goals and assisted on another in Liberty's 3-0 season-opening victory over Mount Vernon Nazarene on Sept.1. With the three-goal night, Bumbut sets personal single-season career-highs with 11 goals and 25 points. The forward now ranks fifth on both the Liberty career points and goals lists. The Flames' marksman has tallied 75 points and 31 goals during his career.
Liberty will close out its regular season Tuesday night at Liberty Soccer Field. The Flames will host VMI in a Big South Conference match. Before the game, the 11 seniors on the Liberty roster, who will be playing in their final home contest at Liberty Soccer Field, will be recognized.