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No. 2 Tar Heels Hold Off LU Rally for 1-0 Win
The defeat snaps Liberty's four-game unbeaten streak, dropping the Flames to 5-2-2 on the year. The North Carolina goal was the first allowed by Liberty in five games. The Flames did not concede a goal over 530:51 of play during the stretch. The Tar Heels, with their third consecutive shutout, move to 8-1-1 on the season.
Host North Carolina tested the Liberty defense early in the opening half. Midfielder Cameron Brown broke free from two defenders and fired the first shot of the contest from the top of the 18-yard box in the 5th minute. Flames goalkeeper Andrew Madero (Jr., Tampa, Fla.) easily corralled the attempt to keep the contest scoreless.
After the early shot, play settled into the middle of the field, with each team looking to spring a player into open space for a shot.
The Flames were able to penetrate the Tar Heel 18-yard penalty area in the 27th minute and were rewarded for the effort with a corner kick. However, the kick by Juan Guzman (Sr., MF, Charlotte, N.C.) was knocked down by a North Carolina defender and cleared.
Tar Heel midfielder Michael Farfan stepped in front of Liberty's clearing pass in the 32nd minute and with forward Kirk Urso to his direct left, broke into the left side of the penalty area. The midfielder ripped a line drive shot, which Madero snatched out of the air to prevent the first score of the game.
After a foul by North Carolina in the 36th minute, the red-clad Flames fired their first shot of the game. Off the resulting free kick, Uriah Bentick (Fr., MF, Port of Spain, Trinidad) lofted a shot from 40 yards out high over the goal.
Farfan attempted the only shot during the last nine minutes of the half, missing high from 20 yards out in the 37th minute.
Liberty countered an opening offensive push by the Tar Heels to fire the first shot of the second half. Forward Darren Amoo (R-So., Accra, Ghana) slipped a shot wide of the far post from the left side of the 18-yard box in the 47th minute.
North Carolina quickly regrouped and sent a trio of shots towards the Liberty net over a two-minute period, beginning in the 48th minute. The first two shots of the flurry by Farfan missed wide and high, respectively. The last shot by midfielder Schuler sailed high over the crossbar.
In the 60th minute, the Tar Heels worked Schuler into space with touch passing for a shot from the top of the 18-yard penalty area. The resulting blast was slapped away by Madero to keep the game scoreless.
Madero was called upon again in the 65th minute to come up with a big save. Brown worked his way free for a shot from 25 yards, which the Flames keeper batted away for his fifth save in the contest.
Liberty put pressure on the North Carolina net in the 74th minute, with midfielder Timothy Bullock (So., Forest, Va.) firing a shot which was blocked out in front of the net by a defender.
The Tar Heels quickly moved the rebound of the shot up field and connected for the game's lone goal at 74:50. Farfan chipped a pass from the left side for Schuler, who headed the ball inside the right post for a 1-0 North Carolina advantage. The goal was the forward's fourth of the year.
Liberty looked to net the equalizer in the 86th minute. A pass by defender Chris Mandell (Sr., Bowling Green, Va.) put Bullock one-on-one with Tar Heel keeper Brook Haggerty. The midfielder blasted a shot towards the lower left-hand corner of the net. However, Haggerty was able to dive out and just get a hand on it to bat it out of bounds.
On the resulting corner kick, a header by Mandell went wide.
The Flames kept pressing the North Carolina net, forcing two saves by Haggerty in the 87th and 89th minute. Chris Osborne (Jr., D/MF, York, Pa.) ripped a shot in the 87th minute for Liberty from the left side of the field, which Haggerty dove out and snagged to prevent the equalizer.
Amoo attempted the final Liberty shot of the night in the 89th minute, which Haggerty held to seal the 1-0 North Carolina victory.
The host Tar Heels outshot the Flames, 18-7, in the contest, while Liberty held a 3-2 edge in corner kicks.
Madero made a season-high seven saves in the Liberty net, while Haggerty recorded three stops for North Carolina.
Liberty finishes its three-game road swing next Tuesday, when it travels to No. 12 Virginia. The non-conference match is scheduled for 7 p.m.