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Liberty Claims Big South Title with 3-1 Victory
The No. 4 seed Liberty Flames used strong defensive play and a quick-strike offense to down the No. 2 seed Gardner-Webb Bulldogs, 3-1, winning the 2011 Big South Conference men's soccer title, Sunday afternoon at Greene-Harbison Stadium.
With the win, Liberty captures its second Big South men's soccer title and runs its record to 11-6-2 on the season. The Flames claim the conference's automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament. Liberty will find out its opponent and match time tomorrow when the field for the tournament is announced at 4:30 p.m. on NCAA.com. The Flames won their first Big South title in 2007.
Tournament host Gardner-Webb ends its season with a 9-8-4 record.
Liberty struck for the first goal of the game during the 11th minute. Midfielder Aseweh fired a shot from the top of the right side of the 18-yard box, which was blocked by a defender. The rebound fell in front of forward Breitmeyer, who ripped a shot off of Gardner-Webb goalkeeper Scott Krotee's hands and into the net for his first goal of the year and a 1-0 Flames lead at 10:15.
During the 24th minute, the Flames extended their advantage. Breitmeyer moved around a Bulldog defender inside the box and was pulled down for a foul, giving the Flames a penalty kick. Aseweh converted the kick for his seventh goal of the year and a 2-0 Liberty lead.
After a foul in the 42nd minute, Gardner-Webb's John Sargent lifted a shot from 25 yards out. Flames goalkeeper Scott Sutarik smothered the attempt and cleared the ball.
Playing strong defense in the first half, Liberty allowed only one shot on goal by the Bulldogs, while putting three on net. The Flames held a 4-3 edge in shots. Corner kicks were even at 1-1.
Pressing the attack in the opening minutes of the second half, Gardner-Webb was able to create a shot for midfielder John Sargent during the 50th minute. Taking a pass at the top left corner of the penalty area, Sargent lined a shot wide of the near post.
Liberty forward Amoo came open for a shot in transition during the 52nd minute, ripping a shot which Krotee dove out and stopped, preventing the Flames from extending their advantage.
Sutarik turned away a Bulldog scoring opportunity in the 59th minute. Coming free at the left post, Clarke sent a header towards the Liberty goal. Sutarik batted the ball down and away from the front of the net, allowing the Liberty defense to clear the ball out of harm's way.
The Flames put the contest out of reach in the 72nd minute. Sutarik punted the ball over the defense, putting Amoo one-on-one with the goalkeeper. After getting Krotee to dive to block a shot with a fake, Amoo chipped it into the net for his seventh goal of the year and a 3-0 edge.
In the 74th minute, Clarke lined a shot from the left side of the field, which Sutarik deflected over the crossbar and out of play.
Crashing the Liberty net, the Bulldogs broke through for a goal, spoiling the shutout in the 85th minute. Off a corner kick, Kevin Nolan tipped a loose ball in front over a pile of players in front of the goal for his first goal of the year.
Krotee stopped Aseweh on a breakway shot in the 88th minute, as the Flames went on to close out the contest and claim the Big South title, 3-1.
"I am very humbled by what God has done through this group of guys," stated Liberty head coach Jeff Alder after the game. "Gardner-Webb played a great game and we have a lot of respect for their coaches and team."
Gardner-Webb outshot Liberty, 11-9, for the contest and also held the advantage in corner kicks, 5-1.
Sutarik made three saves for the Flames, while Krotee also recorded three saves.
Liberty defender and team captain Chris Phillips was named the tournament's MVP. The redshirt senior helped lead the Flames' strong defensive effort throughout their three-game run to the title.
2011 Big South All-Tournament Team
Chris Phillips, Liberty (MVP)
Juan F. Nino, Liberty
Greg White, Liberty
Scott Sutarik, Liberty
Scott Krotee, Gardner-Webb
Eric Asanin-Miroux, Gardner-Webb
Jon Ole Reinhardsen, Gardner-Webb
Adam Sewell, High Point
Karo Okiomah, High Point
Pedro Ribeiro, Coastal Carolina
Kjarten Sigurdsson, Coastal Carolina
Alex Isern, Winthrop
Mitchell Cardenas, Campbell
Lassi Hurskainan, UNC Asheville
Aldo Macias, Radford