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Liberty Falls on Penalty Kicks
No. 1 seed Winthrop defeated No. 5 seed Liberty in penalty kicks (5-4), after a 1-1 tie in the first semifinal game of the 2008 Big South Men's Soccer Championship, Friday afternoon at the CCU Soccer Field, ending Liberty's hopes of repeating as conference champions.
After failing to advance on penalty kicks, Liberty finishes its season with a 10-5-3 record on the season. Winthrop moves to 14-5-2 on the year and will make its seventh Championship game appearance Sunday, and fourth since 2002.
The game was a rematch of last year's semifinal, which was won by Liberty in double overtime. It is the sixth time the two teams have met in the semifinals and the third time the contest has been settled in overtime. It was only the second time Winthrop has advanced to the championship game in a game against Liberty. The Eagles' other victory came in 2006 in overtime.
After battling through two overtime periods, the squads were tied at 1-1, sending the contest to penalty kicks. Winthrop rallied from a 3-1 deficit in the penalty shootout to win in the seventh round of penalty shots. After Eagle goalkeeper Patrick Mitrovich made a save on Mike Gelatt (R-Sr., D, Indianapolis, Ind.), 2008 Big South Player of the Year Daniel Revivo stepped up and drilled his shot into the net to advance the Eagles.
In a tightly played first half, shot opportunities were at a premium, as both teams played solid defense. Each team was able to fire four attempts in the period, without denting the scoreboard.
The top-seeded Eagles' Michael Luk launched the first shot of the contest in the seventh minute. However, Flames goalkeeper Madero (So., Tampa, Fla.) made the stop, keeping Winthrop off the scoreboard.
Liberty countered with two shots by forward Joshua Boateng (Sr., Accra, Ghana). The senior's first attempt in the ninth minute was blocked in front of the goal by an Eagle defender. His second attempt in the 19th minute was turned away by Winthrop goalkeeper Patrick Mitrovich.
After the 12th minute of play, the Flames kept the Eagle offense bottled up the rest of the half, allowing only a high shot by defender Otto Lowey in the 42nd minute.
Mitrovich saved a shot off the foot of Boateng in the 35th minute, sending the game to intermission scoreless.
The second half opened with a shot attempt by Liberty midfielder Alex Verville (Fr., Rochester Hills, Mich.), which sailed high in the 58th minute.
Winthrop took a 1-0 lead in the 80th minute, when Revivo headed home a free kick service from Loewy. Loewy served the ball into the 18-yard box, where the forward headed it at the back post from about eight yards away into the left corner.
Liberty scored the equalizer in the 86th minute. After a Winthrop foul on the outside about 30 yards out, Boateng lofted a pass over the Winthrop defense to Cameron Chastain (Sr., MF, Millersville, Md.), who was standing at the top of the 18-yard box. Chastain took a one touch and drilled a shot into the lower left corner for the tying goal.
In double overtime, Liberty had a chance to end the game, as Chastain broke into the penalty area and into the six-yard box to Mitrovich's left. The midfielder ripped a shot on goal into a crowd, which hit his own player in the back. Winthrop's best chance came when Revivo received a cross in front of the net by Luk, but his header from six yards was corralled by Madero.
Liberty had a 20-12 advantage in total shots and had 10 corner kicks to Winthrop's seven.
Mitrovich and Madero each finished the game with five saves.
Winthrop Head Coach Rich Posipanko
"I've been on both ends of this in the past few years and I certainly feel for Liberty. I'm not sure the best team tonight is advancing. I was really frustrated we didn't have all of our players tonight and couldn't seem to pull it together most of the night on the field."
Liberty Head Coach Jeff Alder
"This was a great college soccer game. Nobody deserved to lose tonight. It was very unfortunate that it had to be settled in PKs. We honored God in our play this year."