College Sports

Liberty douses Winthrop's tourney dreams

Winthrop's Sean Weron defends against Liberty's Adrian Bumbut.
Winthrop's Sean Weron defends against Liberty's Adrian Bumbut.

There will be no back-to-back Big South Conference championships or another trip to the NCAA tournament for the Winthrop Eagles.

Those dreams vanished in the second overtime Friday when Joshua Boatang slammed a shot past Winthrop's Patrick Mitrovich to beat the third-seeded Eagles 1-0 and send the the No. 2 Liberty Flames into Sunday's championship. There, they'll take on fourth-seeded Radford, which stunned top-seed Coastal Carolina 3-1 earlier in the day.

"First of all it was a great college game," Winthrop coach Rich Posipanko said. "Obviously we're disappointed because, as I told the players, our goals were not just win the regular-season championship but to get to the NCAAs and win a game.

"We didn't do that. I'm disappointed and I'm sure they're disappointed. But I told them that in a month they'll look back and say we had a good season ... not a great season, but a good season.

"We've lost a total of seven games in two years. That pretty good in this region. We have 26 wins in two years."

The winning goal started and ended off Boatang's right foot. His corner kick went to teammate Adrian Bombut, who returned the pass to an open Boatang just outside the 18-yard box.

His shot, Liberty's ninth of the night, beat Mitrovich and the Eagles' season was over. The Eagles end the season 11-4-3, while the Flames improve to 12-4-2.

"Very frustrated by the way we handled things there at the end," Posipanko said. "We didn't do a very good job on that short corner."

Liberty also defeated Posipanko's Eagles during the regular season.

"I told the guys that they beat us twice, so it's hard to sit here and say they're not a better team than we are right now," Posipanko said. "It's very frustrating to end on that note, but we lost to a good team.

"We've been on the other end of those kinds of games, and it's a tough way to lose one."

Players and coaches from both teams knew going in it would be a low-scoring affair.

First of all, it pitted the Big South's No. 1 and No. 2 defensive teams. Then there were the keepers.

Mitrovich was All-Big South first team, while Gilbert was all-second team and the freshman of the year.

"It was a very even game that could have gone either way," Posipanko said. "I'd bet the statistics were almost identical. Like I said, it was a great college game.

"And in the end, I think they may have wanted it just a little more than we did."

• RADFORD 3, COASTAL CAROLINA 1 -- An unbeaten regular season, the No. 1 seed and a first-round bye didn't do much to help the Coastal Carolina cause.

Radford used an attacking offense to eliminate the Chanticleers and become the first No. 4 seed to reach the championship game since 2001. It is the second time in three years that the No. 1 seed has been eliminated in the semifinals.