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Liberty Downs Asheville, 2-0
The Liberty Flames broke open a defensive contest with a pair of second-half goals for a 2-0 victory over the UNC Asheville Bulldogs in a Big South Conference men's soccer match, Saturday morning at Osborne Stadium. The game was the final contest of the 2010 regular season for both teams.
With the win, Liberty finishes Big South action at 5-3 and runs its overall record to 10-6-1. UNC Asheville falls to 2-6 in conference play and 4-12-1 overall. The triumph gives the Flames their fourth consecutive season of double-digit wins, tying the longest such streak in program history. From 1996-99, Liberty also posted 10 or more wins in a season.
Shot opportunities were at a premium during the first half. Liberty was only able to get off four shots, while Asheville managed only one by countering the Flames' attack.
The first shot of the match came in the 28th minute, when defender Chris Osborne pounced on a loose ball near the top of the 18-yard box and ripped a rising shot, which Bulldog goalkeeper Lassi Hurskainen deflected over the goal's crossbar to prevent Liberty from getting on the scoreboard.
After the Bulldogs' lone shot of the half by Jake Hagedorn sailed high, the Flames were able to organize on the attack in the 34th minute. Midfielder Zack Clark sent a crossing pass from the left side to the opposite side of the box, which forward Timothy Bullock was able to head towards the net. However, the attempt was corralled by Hurskainen.
Liberty's Alex Verville closed the half by lining a shot towards the net in the 36th minute. Hurskainen was there again, recording his third save of the half and sending the contest to intermission scoreless.
In the second half, the visiting Bulldogs were able to use their counter attack to open the final 45 minutes with two shots. Both attempts by Kenneth Lingerfelt, one in the 50th minute and one in the 57th minute, were high.
The host Flames began to carry possession again after the 60th minute. Over the next 10 minutes, Liberty was able to create three scoring attempts, cashing in on the third to take break the scoreless tie.
Off a free kick from the right side in the 70th minute, Clark put the kick towards the far post, which forward Travis Joseph headed past Hurskainen for his second goal of the season and a 1-0 Liberty advantage.
Six minutes later, Liberty extended its lead to the final score of 2-0. Phillip Aseweh moved past several defenders and moved into the right side of the 18-yard box. Once gaining the box, the midfielder sent a pass across the front of the goal mouth, which Joseph tipped to Bullock. The forward flipped the ball into the open left side for his fourth goal of the year and the Flames' second of the day.
Over the final 15 minutes, Liberty remained on the attack, holding possession and not allowing a UNC Asheville a shot opportunity to seal the victory.
The Flames outshot the Bulldogs, 10-4, in the game and held an 8-2 edge in corner kicks.
Liberty goalkeeper Paul Gilbert made one save over the 90 minutes, while Hurskainen recorded five saves in the contest. The shutout was the sixth blanking of the year for the Flames.
Both the Flames and the Bulldogs will now head to High Point, N.C., for the 2010 Big South Men's Soccer Championship. Each team will play first-round matches on Thursday against a yet to be determined opponent. The conference will announce seedings later this afternoon.