The Winthrop Eagles used two goals in the second half to defeat the Liberty Flames, 2-0, Saturday afternoon at Eagle Stadium.
The first Big South contest of the year for both teams, the match featured the conference's top two scoring teams. Entering the game, Liberty led the league in goals per game, while Winthrop was second. Both teams are among the nation's top 15 in scoring offense.
Liberty drops to 0-1 in Big South play and 5-2-1 overall. Winthrop moves to 1-0 in conference and 7-2 overall. The Eagles have won four-straight contests.
Despite both teams among the nation's leaders in goals, neither team was able to find the net in the first half. In addition, solid defense by both squads kept shots at a premium, too. Liberty's defense did not allow the host Eagles a shot through the opening 28 minutes and none on goal during the opening half. The Flames ended up outshooting Winthrop, 4-3, during the opening 45 minutes.
The best scoring chance for either team in the half came during the 17th minute. Liberty midfielder Bay Kurtz broke into the open and found himself one-on-one with Eagle goalkeeper Guilherme Avelar. Kurtz fired a low shot towards the right post, which Avelar dived out and deflected out of play for a Flames' corner kick. Winthrop was able to clear the kick without further harm.
Held in check during the opening half, Winthrop struck for the contest's first goal during the opening minutes of the second half. Off a corner kick by Pol Sole, the Eagles' leading goal scorer, Magnus Thorsson scored his fifth marker of the year at 48:17. Starting near the back post, Thorsson headed the lofted ball low into the net for a 1-0 advantage.
Winthrop added to its edge off another corner kick during the 52nd minute. After a kick by Sole bounced off several players in front of the net, Sam Schmidt gather the rebound and lifted a shot high into the top of the goal from 10 yards out to give the Eagle what proved to be the final score of 2-0.
Liberty forced Avelar to make several saves during the final 30 minutes to keep the Flames off the scoreboard.
During the 72nd minute, Khalil Karl ripped a shot from the top of the 18-yard box, which forced Avelar to go down to the ground to deflect out of bounds. Three minutes later, a header off a Liberty corner kick by Jaimie Foxwell was also stopped by Avelar. The Eagle keeper also tipped wide a rising shot by Kurtz in the final minutes.
The Flames were shutout for the first time this season.
Liberty held an 11-10 edge in shots and an 8-5 advantage in corner kicks over Winthrop.
Flames' goalkeeper Scott Sutarik recorded two saves. Avelar made five saves.
Liberty will travel to Radford, Va., for a Big South Conference contest against the Radford Highlanders, next Saturday. Match time a Cupp Stadium is scheduled for 6 pm.