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First-Half Goals Push Liberty Past Howard
With the win, Liberty runs its record to 4-2 on the season. Howard falls to 0-7-1. The 3-0 triumph was the second shutout of the year for the Flames, who posted nine shutouts during the 2007 season. In addition, it was the first meeting between Liberty and Howard since 1981. The Flames had never beaten the Bison in their previous six meetings.
In a fast-paced first half, both teams opened the contest by firing shots from the opening kickoff. Liberty would launch 13 shots in the period, while Howard countered with nine.
Through the first 10 minutes of play, the Flames and Bison traded shots. In the seventh minute, a header off a corner kick by Liberty midfielder Chris Phillips (R-Fr., Brownsburg, Ind.) hit the post. A minute later, a shot by the Flames' Chris Mandell (R-Jr., F/MF, Bowling Green, Va.) forced a save by Howard goalkeeper Adisa Bekoe. Meanwhile, Liberty keeper Paul Gilbert (So., Rockvale, Tenn.) stopped two shots in the ninth minute by Howard midfielder Guilherme Fonseca.
The visiting Flames took a 1-0 lead in the 11th minute. From the left side of the field, Karol Chorak (Fr., MF, Saint Louis, Mo.) sent a crossing pass into the 18-yard box, which Mandell headed onto the foot of Nino (Fr., MF, Katy, Texas). The freshman then put it past Bekoe for his first collegiate goal at 10:13.
Less than nine minutes later, Liberty extended its lead. Nino jumped on a loose ball on the wing and found Phillips coming forward with a pass. Phillips rocketed a shot from 40 yards out for his first goal of the season and a 2-0 Flames advantage at 19:44.
Keeping on the attack, Liberty upped its advantage to 3-0 in the 23rd minute. Chorak found Mandell with a crossing pass, which the forward ripped into the lower portion of the net for his first goal of the year, at the 22:53 mark. Defender Mike Gelatt (Sr., Indianapolis, Ind.), who started in his 41st consecutive game Friday, also assisted on the tally.
The Flames continued to pressure the Bison defense, as a shot by Chorak hit the crossbar, preventing Liberty from adding to its edge in the 24th minute.
Gilbert denied Howard midfielder Kareem Williams' shot in the 35th minute and later, stopped a shot by Shamir Saddler in the final seconds of the half to send the match to intermission, 3-0 Liberty.
After a free-wheeling opening half, the pace of the second half slowed, as Liberty used strong defensive play to keep its host off the scoreboard.
The Flames allowed the Bison five shots in the second half, with Liberty netminder Gilbert making three saves to record his second shutout of the year.
Liberty owned a slight shot advantage over Howard in the contest, 16-14, while holding the edge in corner kicks, 5-2.
Gilbert made eight saves in the game, a career high for the second-year Liberty netminder. Bekoe record two saves for Howard.
Liberty steps back into Big South Conference play next Friday, when the Flames travel to Rock Hill, S.C., for a match with the Winthrop Eagles. Match time is scheduled for 7 p.m.