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Flames Fall on Late Goal, 2-1
Liberty falls to 1-1-2 in conference play and 6-3-3 overall. It is the first time this season, the Flames have lost after scoring the contest's first goal. Gardner-Webb moves to 3-3-1 in Big South action and 7-5-1 overall.
In the 84th minute, midfielder Romeo Kabanda took a drop pass from forward John Sargent and found the net for his fifth goal of the season, breaking a 1-1 tie and propelling the host Bulldogs to the 2-1 win.
The match opened with the Runnin' Bulldogs taking the first attempt of the contest off a corner kick in the third minute of play. The shot by defender Jovan Ivanovich was blocked down in front by Liberty midfielder Juan Nino (So., Katy, Texas) and cleared.
The Flames countered with their first shot in the eighth minute. Midfielder Uriah Bentick (Fr., Port of Spain, Trinidad) blasted a shot from the top left corner of the 18-yard box wide.
The play then settled into the midfield until the 14th minute, when Gardner-Webb midfielder Adam Augruso accepted a back pass and ripped a shot from 20 yards. Liberty goalkeeper Andrew Madero (Jr., Tampa, Fla.) punched the rising shot over the goal's crossbar and out of play, preventing a score.
In the 19th minute, the Flames pressed the Bulldog defense. Liberty forward Darren Amoo (R-So., Accra, Ghana) received a pass in space on the left side of the penalty area but pushed a shot wide.
Liberty appeared to net the first goal of the contest in the 23rd minute. Off a free kick close to the end line to the right side of the Gardner-Webb goal, Phillip Aseweh (So., F, Navarongo, Trinidad) seemed to head the kick into the net. However, the goal was waved off by the referee after calling a foul on the Flames.
Continuing to carry play, Aseweh was able to shake a defender and fire a shot from the left side toward the lower far post. Bulldog goalkeeper Trent Koozman smothered the rolling shot to keep the Flames off the scoreboard.
In the 34th minute, Gardner-Webb had back-to-back corner kick opportunities, but the Liberty defense held tight, not allowing a shot on either opportunity.
After playing most of the first half in the Bulldog end of the field, the Flames broke through early in the second half to take a 1-0 advantage. After Amoo blasted a shot off of Gardner-Webb keeper Koozman, Aseweh headed the rebound into the net at 47:27 to take a lead. The marker was the forward's fifth goal of the year and his second in as many games.
The Liberty edge was short-lived, as the host Bulldogs evened the contest at 1-1 in the 49th minute. Forward Gerard Hefferon headed a crossing pass by Kabanda into the far right corner of the net, his eight goal of the season. The Gardner-Webb forward entered the game second in the Big South Conference in points. The goal was the first allowed by Liberty in a conference game this season.
After the exchange of scores, the defenses of both teams again tightened, with neither team allowing a quality shot attempt.
In the 70th minute, Liberty had back-to-back corner kick attempts. On the second one, Chris Phillips (R-So., MF, Brownsville, Ind.) blasted a shot high over the goal.
Gardner-Webb countered in the 81st minute, as John Segant came free for a shot, but Madero was able to corral the attempt to keep the game knotted at 1-1.
Less than four minutes later, Kabanda netted the game-winner for the Bulldogs.
In the hard-fought match, Gardner-Webb outshot Liberty, 15-12, while holding a 10-3 advantage in corner kicks.
Madero recorded three saves in the Flames' goal, while Kozman made three stops for the Bulldogs.
Liberty returns home Friday for a non-conference match. The Flames will welcome the Southern Virginia Knights to Osborne Stadium. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m.