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Second Half Goals Move Flames Into Semifinals

November 13, 2008  Conway, S.C.  RSS
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Justin Willoughby scored his fourth goal of the season in Liberty's victory Thursday.

Justin Willoughby scored his fourth goal of the season in Liberty's victory Thursday.

Liberty seniors Justin Willoughby and Joshua Boateng each scored second-half goals, erasing a first-half High Point advantage, as the Big South Defending Champion and No. 5 seed Flames defeated the No. 4 seed Panthers, 2-1, Thursday in the opening game of the 2008 Big South Men's Soccer Championship at CCU Soccer Field.

With the win, Liberty advances to tomorrow afternoon's semifinals and moves to 10-5-2 on the season. High Point finishes the year at 9-8-3. The Flames will meet the winner of the tournament's top seed Winthrop and No. 8 seed VMI which will be contested later on this afternoon. Liberty will be making its 11th appearance in the Big South Championship semifinals.

The win gives Liberty its second consecutive 10-win season, as the Flames posted a 13-5-2 mark in 2007. It is the first time in head coach Jeff Alder's tenure that Liberty has had back-to-back 10-win years and the third time in the eight-year coach's tenure.

High Point staked itself to an advantage in the contest's opening minutes, scoring on its first shot of the game. Forward Chris Shrum dropped a pass onto the foot of midfielder Matt Tuttle, who launched a shot from just inside the left corner of the 18-yard box. He found the right lower corner for his second goal of the season and a 1-0 Panther lead at the 5:10 mark.

After the early marker, defense took over with shot attempts at a premium. An attempt, which a High Point defender blocked, by Liberty's Boateng (MF, Accra, Ghana) in the 21st minute and a high shot by Daniel McGarry (Sr., MF, Philadelphia, Pa.) in the 35th minute were the only Liberty attempts of the half. Meanwhile, High Point managed a shot which went high in the 10th minute, as its only other attempt of the first half.

After intermission, High Point had an opportunity to score their second goal of the game in the 51st minute, when Tuttle served a ball into the 18-yard box for Shrum, whose header was stopped by a Flames' defender. The carom found Panther midfielder Hilaire Babou, who fired a shot which was blocked by another Liberty defender and Babou was unable to run down the rebound for an attempt on the empty net.

Less than five minutes later, Liberty evened the score at 1-1. Midfielder Karol Chorak (Fr., Saint Louis, Mo.), the Flames leader in assists with eight, sent a crossing pass into the penalty area from the right side. Willoughby (F, Greenville, N.C.) put the ball past Panther goalkeeper Michael Chesler with a diving header, evening the score with his fourth goal of the year at 55:14.

Liberty got the game-winning goal from the Big South's leading goal scorer, Boateng, in the 78th minute play. A long throw-in from defender Chris Osborne (Jr., York, Pa.) found the head of the forward, which was caught by Panther goalkeeper Chesler. However, his momentum carried him back into the goal and cross the end line for the goal. The marker at 77:40 was Boateng's 13th of the year and propelled Liberty to the 2-1 win. The forward's goal moves him into a tie for sixth on the program's all-time single season goal list. In addition, the tally gives Boateng 31 points on the year, moving into a tied for sixth on Liberty's single season points list.

The Flames held a slight 8-6 edge in shots, including a 6-4 advantage in the second half. High Point held a 6-2 advantage in corner kicks.

Liberty's Andrew Madero (So., Tampa, Fla.) did not record a save in the contest, while Chesler had two saves for High Point.

Liberty Head Coach Jeff Alder
"We want to give credit to High Point. We knew it was going to be a difficult contest, most likely a one- goal game. Luckily we were able to stay in the game and not fall far behind. It was a typical Big South Tournament game and we applaud High Point and their staff. At this point in the season, it is survive and advance."

High Point Head Coach Dustin Fonder
"We are disappointed in the outcome this afternoon, but hats off to Liberty, they are a quality team. Both teams are still wondering if that second goal really went in, but we can't change that at this point. We are looking forward to continuing the growth of the High Point program."