Flames wash up

Eagles knock off Flames in 2OT

In the midst of a dark and rainy day, the Winthrop Eagles men’s Soccer team (1-0, 3-5) extinguished the Liberty Flames (0-1, 4-5) 2-1 Saturday Sept. 26 at Osborne Stadium.

 control — Flames forward Blessing Tahuona gains possession. Photo credit: Leah Seavers

Control — Flames forward Blessing Tahuona gains possession. Photo credit: Leah Seavers

In what was each team’s Big South Conference opener, the Eagles netted the game winner off a free kick with just three minutes left in the second period of the golden-goal overtime.

The goal came from a set piece around the 18-yard box. Eagles senior midfielder Magnus Thorsson sent the kick perfectly on the ground to the right of the wall of Liberty defenders into the side of the goal. Liberty redshirt-junior goalkeeper Jeremy Lee got a finger on it, but the shot’s placement was undeniable.

The beginning of the game was evenly matched. In the first 15 minutes of action, each team allotted two shots and one goal.

In the third minute, Liberty junior transfer midfielder Kyle Carr opened the score-line. After forward Kevin Mendoza’s shot ricocheted off the Winthrop goalkeeper to the top of the box, Carr collected the rebound and sent the ball into the right corner of the goal.

To celebrate the early lead, Carr took advantage of the wet pitch to slide in the direction of the few fans braving the elements. A dog-pile quickly ensued. Momentum and energy were in Flames favor.

However, the momentum shifted in the Eagles direction in the 12th minute. After a failed clearance in Liberty’s defensive third, Winthrop midfielder Marco Gatzke took advantage by threading the ball to Max Hasenstab on the left flank. Hasenstab calmly sent the ball to the right of the goalkeeper into the net.

momentum, and then we failed to clear a ball properly and unfortunately they caught us off a turnover and that gave them a little bit of momentum,” Liberty Head Coach Alder said.

After returning from the locker room for the second half, the game was even keel. Both teams had quality chances to finish during regulation, however each team failed to do so.

One of the major reasons why Winthrop was left without a goal in the second period was due to the outstanding play of Liberty redshirt junior goalkeeper Jeremy Lee. With seven saves in the second half alone (and 11 in the entire game), Lee made it difficult for Winthrop to get the ball across the goal line.

As the game went into overtime, the Flames looked poised for a goal. However, the Thorsson free-kick goal ended the game in favor of the Eagles.

In actuality, the contest was a game of missed opportunities for the Flames.

Liberty earned six corner kicks, but failed to produce anything dangerous off of the set piece.

“It wasn’t good enough. Our services have to be better …because we’re very good on restarts,” Alder said.

The Flames also had a problem being a little too patient on the offensive front. Liberty produced only nine shots with a mere three being shots on goal. Failure to produce goals has haunted the team all season.

“We’ve got to do a better job of coaching them and try to get them to understand that in the final third some of the movements and some of the types of shots that we need to take to finish because we left some shots out there today,” Alder said.

Alder’s side took the loss even harder as it was the team’s Big South opener.

“Conference means something more to us because we’re looking to win a ring this year and represent Liberty well,” Carr said.

If the Flames indeed want to win a ring, they will have to create more quality scoring chances. While defense is vastly important, wins come when one team has more goals than the other.

Liberty will look to put this theory to the test when they take the field on Oct. 3 against Radford.

Keating is a sports reporter.

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