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Flames' Big South Opener Ends in Tie

September 19, 2009
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Liberty goalkeeper Andrew Madero

Liberty goalkeeper Andrew Madero

In a contest where both teams put up strong defensive efforts, the Liberty Flames and the Radford Highlanders played to a 0-0, two overtime tie, Saturday night at Osborne Field in the Big South Conference opener for both teams.

With the tie, Liberty moves to 3-1-1 overall on the season and 0-0-1 in conference play, while Radford goes to 2-2-1 overall and 0-0-1 in Big South action. It is the first time since Sept. 21, 2005, when Liberty and High Point played to a 1-1 tie, that the Flames have begun their conference slate with a tie.

In the opening half, shot attempts were at a premium. Each team's defense kept play between the two sides hemmed in the neutral area, with little possession for either team in the 18-yard boxes.

The visiting Highlanders fired the first attempt of the contest, 12 minutes in. Forward James Jordan worked his way free near the top of the penalty area and lifted a shot high over the net for the first of two Radford shots in the half.

A minute later, the Flames attempted the first of their two shots in the half. Off of a corner kick by Timothy Bullock (So., MF, Forest, Va.), midfielder Juan Guzman (Sr., Charlotte, N.C.) pushed an attempt wide.

The half closed with the teams exchanging shots. Liberty midfielder Thad Taylor (Jr., Spring, Texas) missed wide in the 36th minute. Radford forward Iyiola Awosika forced the only save of the period with a shot into the arms of Flames goalkeeper Andrew Madero (Jr., Tampa, Fla.) in the final minute of the half.

The second half opened with a flurry of shots by the home team. After an Awosika shot went wide in the first minute of the period, Liberty marksmen were able to find openings in the Radford defense to fire five shots over the next 11 minutes.

The burst began with a shot by forward Travis Joseph (Fr., Laventille, Trinidad), which Highlander goalkeeper Ryan Taylor saved at 46:16. Forward Darren Amoo (R-So., Accra, Ghana) and Guzman fired back-to-back attempts in the 49th minute, with neither finding their way to the net. After Amoo went wide again in the 50th minute, midfielder Chris Phillips (R-So., Brownsburg, Ind.) came close to denting the scoreboard with a low shot from the center of the 18-yard box, which Taylor was able to block down with one hand and then corral.

Radford countered in the 65th minute. Camden Brown made a long run with the ball from midfield, splitting two Liberty defenders, and launched a shot on net. However, Flames keeper Madero was in position to make to the save.

Two minutes later, Bullock stole a pass from Taylor to a defender toward the center of the field and blasted a shot, which the Radford netminder plucked out of the air with a diving save to keep things scoreless.

After a header by midfielder Alex Verville (So., Rochester Hills, Mich.) off a corner kick went wide in the 79th minute, neither team could muster a quality shot attempt in the remaining minutes of regulation. Awosika did attempt two long shots, but both were high.

In the first overtime, each team forced the goalkeeper to make a save with their only shot of the 10-minute period. Amoo blasted a shot in the opening minute of overtime, forcing a diving stop by Taylor. In the final 30 seconds of the period, Brian Gwanzura lofted a shot on the Liberty net, which Madero handled.

Amoo took both Flame shots during the second overtime. The forward's first shot was high off a corner kick in the 103rd minute of play, and he closed the night by having a shot blocked in front of the Highlander net by a defenseman in the 109th minute. Radford's only attempt of the second period was a wild shot, high over the goal in the 108th minute by Brown.

Liberty outshot Radford, 16-10, in the contest, with 11 shots coming in the second half of play. The Flames also held a 9-0 advantage over the Highlanders in corner kicks.

Liberty's Madero made three stops in between the posts for the Flames in recording his third shutout of the year. Taylor compiled five saves in the match for Radford.

Liberty continues a four-game homestand on Tuesday, hosting a non-conference match at Osborne Stadium. The Flames will welcome the Howard Bison for a 7 p.m. contest.