By EARL WATT
• Leader & Times
The Liberal Redskins will face Emporia in the championship of the Wichita Titan Classic after knocking off Maize 2-1 in the semi-final Wednesday.
Edgar Moreno gave the Redskins an early lead when a long kick glanced off the Maize goalie and was kicked in by Moreno four minutes into the game.
Neither team scored until the final 15 minutes when a foul against Liberal gave Maize the ball outside the box on the right side of the goal, a center kick came across the goal, and Maize’s Holmes was able to sneak the ball into the net to tie the game, 1-1.
Liberal had to use substitutes in the second half after a collision between goalie Jose Alonzo and forward Elieo Gonzalez forced both players to the bench. Cesar Flores took over goalkeeping duties.
With less than two minutes to play, Pedro Lara had a free kick around midfield and took a long shot at the goal. The Maize goalie attempted to make a catch but bobbled the ball. Liberal’s Giovanni Enriquez found the loose ball and took a shot that glanced off a Maize defender and into the goal.
The Redskins defense protected the lead to earn the 2-1 win.
“We dominated the first half really well,” Liberal assistant Randolph Love said. “Maize had a couple shots on goal.”
Flores gave up one goal but had four saves in the final 20 minutes of the game.
“He was nervous but felt more comfortable as the game went on,” Love said. “Our defense stepped up real good today compared to Monday. Defense was real solid. I was pleased how they played overall.”.
A big difference was the number of fouls. Maize had seven calls while the Redskins were whistled for 17.
The Redskins had 10 shots on goal to nine for Maize.
“It was a real good game,” Love said. “Maize played real aggressive. We had some injuries here and there.”
Liberal will face Emporia who advanced to the championship with a win over Salina Central after a 1-1 tie led to penalty kicks, and Emporia won the shootout 5-4.
“We are real confident we can win,” Love said. “We played them last year. If our offense gets together with our creativity, and we get more shots on goal, we want 20 shots, if we can do that we are confident.”