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Liberty Falls 2-0 to Loyola
With the win, Loyola runs its mark to 19-3 and advances to play No. 13 seed Maryland, Wednesday in College Park, Md. Liberty finishes the season at 13-5-2. The Flames end their year with the third-most wins in program history and captured their first-ever Big South Championship.
After neither team was able to mount any offense in the first 10 minutes, Loyola midfielder Jamie Darvill attempted the first shot of the contest from the top of the penalty area, forcing a diving save by Liberty keeper Paul Gilbert (Fr., Rockvale, Tenn.) at 10:26. The shot set up the first corner kick of the contest, which Liberty cleared safely out of harm's way.
The Greyhounds then jumped out to an early 1-0 advantage at 22:05. A corner kick by Julian Cantillo on the left side was headed in the air by a Liberty defender. Loyola forward Eddie Dines headed the ball at the near post into the upper right-hand corner for the contest's first goal and Dines' ninth marker of the year.
Liberty attempted its first shot of the game in the 28th minute. Midfielder Juan Guzman (So., Charlotte, N.C.) found space in the middle of the field just above the penalty area and fired a shot which sailed wide.
In the 37th minute, Flames midfielder Joshua Boateng (Jr., Accra, Ghana) sent Greyhound goalkeeper Milos Kocic to his knees to stop a low shot attempt. The keeper corralled the blast to keep Liberty off the scoreboard.
Loyola upped its lead to 2-0 in the 41st minute. On a direct kick from 18 yards out, midfielder Camilo Correa wrapped a shot around a wall of Liberty defenders, which was blocked out by the Flames' Gilbert. Greyhound forward Phil Bannister picked up the loose ball and rifled it into the middle of the net at 40:21 for his team-leading 13th goal of the season.
Loyola outshot Liberty 9-2 in the opening half. The Greyhounds also held a 5-2 advantage in corner kicks.
Quickening the match's pace, Liberty put pressure on the Loyola net in the opening minutes of the second half. The Flames attempted three shots in the period's first seven minutes. Forward Justin Willoughby (Sr., Greenville, N.C.) began the stretch with a header which went high, followed by a shot by Adrian Bumbut (Sr., Zalau, Romania), which went wide. The barrage ended with another shot by Willoughby.
Moments later, the Flames' pressure yielded a corner kick in the 57th minute. Off the kick, Bumbut sent a header on net, forcing an outstanding save by Greyhound keeper Kocic.
Just as Loyola controlled play in the first half, Liberty continued to push the play in the second period. The Flames did not allow their hosts a shot through the opening 40 minutes of the stanza. Yet, despite outshooting Loyola, 7-0, over the span, the Flames could not cut into the Greyhound advantage.
Boateng fired two shots in the 82nd and the 84th minutes. On both occasions, Kocic extended fully to make saves, sealing the Loyola victory.
For the contest, Liberty outshot Greyhounds, 12-9. The Flames held a 10-0 shot advantage in the second half. Liberty also had the edge in corner kicks, 7-6.
Flames keeper Gilbert recorded four saves, all in the first half, while Kocic recorded five saves. The shutout was Loyola's 16th this season.
Loyola Head Coach Mark Mettrick
"We won the game with our play in the first half. In the second half, we held them off with good defense and the play of our goalkeeper."
Liberty Head Coach Jeff Alder
"Both teams committed to playing quality soccer today. They capitalized by making two goals off restarts in the first half. In the second half, we outshot them, 10-0, but their keeper made at least three big saves to keep us from closing the gap."