A goal by Pepe Segarra in the final minute of regulation powered the Liberty Flames past the Marshall Thundering Herd, 1-0, Tuesday night at Osborne Stadium.
Segarra took a feed in front of the net from forward Tresor Mbuyu and netted his second goal of the season with 42 seconds left to give Liberty the win and extend its season-long winning streak to four.
With the victory in its final non-conference game of the regular season, Liberty moves to 9-3-1. Marshall, who entered the contest coming off a victory over No. 21 Kentucky in its last outing, drops to 6-6-1 on the year. The Liberty win is its first in the last four meetings between the two teams. Each of the previous three matchups had gone to overtime.
Despite splitting possession throughout the first half, Liberty held the Marshall offense to two shots before halftime. Meanwhile, the Flames fired seven shots and forced Herd goalkeeper Ben Martinez to make four saves.
Three of Liberty’s four shots on goal in the half came off the foot of midfielder Bobby Bynum. The midfielder ripped a rising shot from the left corner of the box to the far post, which Martinez had to jump and punch out of play during the ninth minute. On the ensuing corner kick, midfielder Rueben Garcia placed the kick at the far left post. Liberty defender Edgardo Reyes attempted to head it in but missed the near corner, as his shot went wide.
During the 36th minute, an outstanding effort by Martinez kept the Flames off the scoreboard. Two quick passes into the center of the field set up midfielder Kevin Mendoza for a shot. From just outside the box, Mendoza lined a shot toward the upper far left post. Martinez took a step back and then tipped the ball down with his outstretched hands and out of the 18-yard box.
Bynum closed the half with a shot during the 43rd minute. However once again, Martinez made the stop and cleared.
After an initial push by the Herd during the early minutes of the second half, Liberty held possession, placing pressure upon the Marshall defense.
The Flames garnered a string of three consecutive corner kicks during the 53rd and 54th minutes. The Herd finally cleared Liberty’s third attempt, keeping the contest scoreless.
Two minutes later, a pass from the midfielder sprang Flames forward Matthew Zaczyk free near the right side of the box. Martinez was able to get a piece of the shot, slowing it down as it headed toward the far left corner. A Marshall defender raced back and cleared it away from the goal line, preventing the goal.
On the ensuing corner kick, Garcia placed the ball right in the middle of the box, forcing the Herd’s Martinez to bat the ball out over the end line to clear. Afterwards, Marshall cleared the corner kick, keeping the game scoreless.
In the closing minutes of the contest, the visiting Thundering Herd went on the attack. After a Liberty foul near the right side of the 18-yard box during the 85th minute, Marshall midfielder Jamil Roberts placed the free kick on goal. Liberty goalkeeper James Knoebel stepped off the goal line and punched the ball out of danger.
The Herd sent the clearing attempt right back into the box, this time to the far post. However, a header attempt by Dion Stergiotis was wide.
Liberty gained control of the ball during the final minute after a scramble in the midfield. The ball was pushed forward to Zaczyk at the top right corner of the 18-yard box, who immediately dumped it down to Mbuyu at the near post. Mbuyu then sent the ball into the center of the goal box, where Segarra hit the ball in stride, scoring into the lower right corner for the 1-0 advantage at 89:18.
Off the reset, Marshall moved the ball into the 18-yard box, but the Flames did not allow a shot, sealing the victory.
Liberty outshot Marshall, 12-6, including 6-3 in shots on goal. The Flames also held a 7-1 advantage on corners.
Knoebel played all 90 minutes in the Liberty net, recording three saves on the evening. Martinez finished the contest with five saves for Marshall.
Liberty will take a seven-day break, before returning to action next Wednesday. The Flames will travel to High Point, N.C., for a Big South contest against the High Point Panthers. Game time at Vert Stadium is scheduled for 7 p.m.