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Liberty Downs No. 9 Coastal Carolina to Advance to Finals
The No. 4 seeded Liberty Flames scored two goals early in the second half, en route to a 2-1 victory over the No. 1 seeded Coastal Carolina Chanticleers, the nation's ninth ranked team, Friday night in the first Big South Championship semifinal game at Greene-Harbison Stadium.
Travis Joseph scored his fifth goal of the season and Darren Amoo netted his sixth marker in the victory for the Flames.
Liberty advances to the 2011 Big South title game, running its record to 10-6-2 on the season. The Flames will appear in the Big South Championship for the first time since 2009, when they fell 2-1 to Winthrop at Greene-Harbison Stadium. Liberty will play No. 2 seeded Gardner-Webb, Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. for the Big South Championship and the conference's automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament. Gardner-Webb advanced on penalty kicks, 4-3, against No. 6 seeded High Point this evening.
Coastal Carolina falls to 17-3 on the season. The Liberty victory halts the Chanticleers' 13-game win streak.
The opening stages of the first half saw the two teams exchange possession, as play was confined between the 18-yard boxes. The Chanticleers did fire the first shots of the game during the first eight minutes. Both shots came from 20 yards out and went wide.
In the 16th minute, Liberty forward Kyle Breitmeyer broke free in transition, and once gaining the penalty area, ripped the Flames' first shot of the game high over the goal.
Coastal Carolina forward Ashton Bennett pushed a pass into the center of the 18-yard box in the 24th minute for midfielder Pedro Ribeiro. However, the midfielder was not able to take advantage of the scoring opportunity, lifting a shot high over the net.
Off of a free kick by the Chanticleers during the 29th minute, Liberty goalkeeper Scott Sutarik made his first save of the game. The free kick from the right side of the field was sent towards the far post, where it was headed towards the net by defender Kjartan Siguardsson. Sutarik jumped up and pulled the ball in, keeping the match scoreless.
In the 33rd minute, a foul by Coastal Carolina gave Liberty a free kick just above the top of the box. The ensuing free kick by Flames defender Uriah Bentick was saved by Chanticleer goalkeeper Scott Angevine.
After Coastal Carolina was unable to clear the zone, Liberty was able to set Breitmeyer up with a shot attempt from the left side of the 18-yard box a minute later. However, Angevine deflected it out of bounds.
The Chanticleers countered after a wide shot by Amoo during the 41st minute. Moving the ball quickly up the field, a long pass into the box was headed by Robby Joe Daniels off the inside of the left post and bounced out, keeping the game scoreless.
The half ended with Sutarik stopping another header by Daniels from right in front of the goal during the 44th minute.
Coastal Carolina held a 13-5 advantage in shots during the first half. Corner kicks were even at 1-1.
Liberty began the second half with two quick goals. Forward Timothy Bullock moved past several defenders and fed a pass into the right side of the 18-yard box for an open Joseph. The forward buried a shot into the left corner of the net for his fifth goal of the year and a 1-0 lead at 47:05.
Less than four minutes later, the Flames extended their advantage. A punt by Sutarik got over the Coastal Carolina defense into the possession of Amoo, who buried a shot into the back of the net for his sixth goal of the season and a 2-0 edge.
Liberty had a chance to add to their lead during the 55th minute. Bullock gained the box and fired a shot off the post. The loose ball bounded to Amoo, who pushed a shot towards the net. However, a Chanticleer defender was able to clear the ball off the goal line to prevent a score.
Coastal Carolina cut the Flames advantage to 2-1 in the 65th minute. Ribeiro netted his ninth goal of the year, scoring a loose ball in front of the net. Before the goal, Liberty had not allowed a goal in 383:23 of game play.
After the goal, the Chanticleers pressed the Flames net looking for the equalizer. Liberty turned away several Coastal Carolina attempts, sealing the victory and advancing to Sunday's final.
"I am proud of our guys' willingness to compete," state Flames head coach Jeff Alder. "Coastal Carolina is clearly a Top 10 team and our guys did a great job of matching their intensity."
For the game, Coastal Carolina outshot Liberty, 21-12, and also held a 4-3 edge in corner kicks.
Sutarik recorded four saves for Liberty, while Angevine made four saves for Coastal Carolina.