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No. 4 Liberty Advances on Penalty Kicks, 5-4
The No. 4 seeded Liberty Flames advanced to the conference semifinals, 5-4, over the No. 5 seeded Radford Highlanders, Thursday in the first game of the 2011 Big South Men's Soccer Championship at Greene-Harbison Stadium.
After the contest ended in a scoreless tie through 110 minutes of play, both Liberty goalkeeper Scott Sutarik and Radford goalkeeper Dane Wilson, who was inserted into the contest just for penalty kicks, made saves on the fifth kick with the kicks tied, 3-3, moving the shootout to extra penalty kicks.
After another stop by Sutarik in the eighth round of kicks, Juan F. Niño beat Wilson to advance the Flames to the next round, 5-4.
Liberty moves to 9-6-2 overall and advances to play No. 1 seed Coastal Carolina, a 2-0 winner over No. 8 UNC Asheville this afternoon. It is the first time the Flames have gone to penalty kicks in the Big South Championship since Nov. 14, 2008, when Liberty failed to advance on kicks against Winthrop, 5-4.
With not allowing a goal in regulation, the Flames have now posted three straight shutouts. Liberty entered the contest as the conference leader in shutouts and has recorded eight shutouts on the year. The Flames have not allowed a goal over their last 319:08 of play.
The first 20 minutes saw tight defense by both squads. Neither team was able to generate any scoring opportunities. The only shot of the sequence came by the Flames during the 18th minute. Midfielder Phillip Aseweh was able to loft a pass into the top left corner of the 18-yard box for forward Darren Amoo. However, a shot by the forward was blocked by a Radford defender and cleared.
The Highlanders produced their first shot attempt of the game in the 32nd minute, but the attempt from the top of the box was blocked by a Liberty defender.
In the 37th minute, Flames defender Sam Duininck came free on the left side for a shot, which he lifted high over the goal.
Radford earned back-to-back corner kicks during the 43rd minute. On both kicks, Sutarik made strong defensive plays to clear the ball, without a shot.
The first 45 minutes featured defense. Shots were even in the first half at two apiece, while corner kicks were also even at 2-2.
The two teams exchanged shots in the opening minutes of the second half, with neither finding the net. In the 47th minute, an attempt by Radford's Dario Redondo was high, while a shot by Amoo was blocked by a defender during the 50th minute.
Highlander forward and leading scorer Iyiola Awosika sidestepped a Flames defender in the 56th minute and lined a shot wide left.
A through pass put Amoo into the 18-yard box alone with Radford goalkeeper Ryan Taylor during the 61st minute. After moving past the keeper, the forward ripped a shot, which rolled just wide outside the left post.
Liberty's Sutarik stopped an attempt by Awosika from close range during the 73rd minute. After a crossing pass into the center of the penalty area, the Highlander fired a low liner towards the right post, only to see the Flames' keeper make a diving stop to keep the game scoreless.
In the final minute of regulation, Liberty had an opportunity with a corner kick. However, Taylor was able to wade through several players and corralled the kick by Niño to send the game to overtime.
The Flames began the first overtime period with a scoring opportunity. During the opening minute, forward Timothy Bullock moved around a defender and sent a pass into the left side of the box. Amoo flipped a shot towards the far post, catching Taylor off the goal line and out of position. However, Highlander defender Matt Jassen hurried back and cleared the ball away from the front of the net, preventing the Liberty victory.
In the 95th minute, Radford's attack was able to produce a corner kick, which the Flames cleared.
Aseweh forced a save by Taylor during the 98th minute. The midfielder lined a shot, which the Highlander goalkeeper stopped with a diving save to continue the contest.
Radford had the first scoring opportunity of the second 10 minute period. After stepping in front of a Liberty pass, midfielder Luis Grande moved up the left side of the field and ripped an attempt wide in the 102nd minute.
It was the only attempt of the second overtime, sending the contest to penalty kicks.
"A fantastic game to start the conference tournament," stated Liberty head coach Jeff Alder after the contest. "Both teams played outstanding defense and no one likes to go to penalty kicks, but our guys came through."
"I am really proud at how our guys defended to get penalty kicks. Radford has an excellent program and we have the upmost respect for their players and coaches."
Sutarik record one save during the 110 minutes of play for Liberty. Taylor made one save for Radford.
Radford outshot Liberty, 11-10, while the Flames held a 4-3 edge in corner kicks.