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Late Goal Pushes Liberty Past Gardner-Webb

Published: October 24, 2016

A goal by Rigoberto Rojas during the 80th minute, helped propel the Liberty Flames to a 3-2 victory over the Gardner-Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs, Friday afternoon at Greene-Harbison Field.

With the score tied at 2-2, Rojas scored his second goal of the season at 79:43, breaking the tie and netting the game-winner. Rojas also registered an assist in the contest. The forward has recorded a helper in each of his last four games.

With back-to-back wins, Liberty moves to 3-2 in the Big South and 6-7-1 overall. Gardner-Webb drops to 1-4 in conference play and 3-10 overall.

Tresor Mbuyu scored his team-leading ninth goal and assisted on a goal for the Flames. Kevin Mendoza also scored for Liberty. His goal was his sixth of the year.

The host Runnin’ Bulldogs took a 1-0 lead during the 20th minute. Leading scorer Ali Al-Gashamy netted his seventh goal of the year, scoring a crossing pass from Hayden Sparrow.

Nine minutes later, Liberty tied the match. Rojas sent a pass across the 18-yard box to Mbuyu, who sent the ball back across to the box. There, Mendoza scored into the near, left-hand corner, knotting the match.

The contest headed to halftime at 1-1, as neither team attempted a shot during the final 16 minutes of the first half.

In the opening minutes of the second half, Mbuyu gave Liberty the lead during the 58th minute. Picking up a failed clearing attempt, the forward lined a shot into the left side of the net from 11 yards out for a 2-1 advantage.

Gardner-Webb tied the contest during the 61st minute. Al-Gashamy sent a pass across the field from left to right for midfielder Sami Jilla. Finding an open area just above the upper right corner of the box, Jilla tucked a shot inside the left post for his second goal of the year, deadlocking the contest at 2-2.

Hemming the Runnin’ Bulldogs in their own end with a pressuring attack yielded the game-winner for the Flames.  Carrying play, Liberty set up Mendoza for two shot attempts, starting during the 77th minute. The sophomore midfielder’s first shot was stopped by Gardner-Webb goalkeeper Matt Swan, but after a failed clear, Mendoza was able to get off another shot attempt which sailed wide.

After a foul gave Liberty a free kick and ball possession, Rojas scored with a shot from the right side of the box for a 3-2 advantage.

Liberty goalkeeper James Knoebel then snagged a header by Roman Eddleman off a free kick in the final minute of regulation to seal the win.

Liberty outshot Gardner-Webb, 13-9, in shots and held a 9-4 advantage in shots on goal. The Flames also had a 4-1 edge in corner kicks.

Knoebel made two saves for the Flames, while Swan recorded four for the Runnin’ Bulldogs.

Liberty next returns home for a Big South match with High Point on Wednesday. Match time at Osborne Stadium is scheduled for 4 p.m.

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