Liberty loses home opener 2-0 to N.C. State in front of near-record crowd
Spectators filled all of the seats in the Osborne stadium and the grass fields next to the bleachers. According to libertyflames.com, 1,783 filled the stands, the third largest crowd ever at Osborne stadium. The bleachers were painted red with students wearing red shirts and blowing vuvuzelas. Unfortunately for the fans, North Carolina State University defeated Liberty Flames 2-0 in their first game of the season, Aug. 24.
The match began with both teams playing defensively. Though an overhead kick-on goal by Liberty’s Sachem Wilson and a shot on goal by NC State’s Nazam Albadawi would keep the crowd entertained, both team’s defenses prevented any scoring from either side. Liberty was the first to show a lapse in concentration in the final minute of the first half as a poor attempt to clear the ball backwards saw NC State’s Albadawi pick up the ball and drive it past Liberty’s goalkeeper, Sam Chappell, to make the game 1-0.
“We miscommunicated on that play right before half time,” Alder said. “We didn’t clear it hard enough. Our keeper comes out and swings, and they just got a toe on it. I really thought it should have been just 0-0 at half time.”
The second half saw the Flames pressuring the Wolfpack in hopes of evening up the score, but Liberty found themselves even further behind. At the 72nd minute, NC State’s Alex Martinez lured Liberty’s Chappell out of his goal and crossed the ball to Monbo Bokar, who brought the score to 2-0. Liberty tried to score a consolation goal in the 80th minute, when Liberty’s Wilson hit the crossbar from a long-range shot, but the Flames did not manage to score for the remainder of the game. Despite the loss, the Liberty men’s soccer team’s head coach Jeff Alder was positive about his team’s performance.
“I thought we outplayed them, and I thought overall we’re in great shape,” Alder said. “NC State is great defensively, very organized, very opportunistic and it’s a well-coached team, but I thought we matched them. I don’t think the fans that showed up tonight saw a big difference between the two teams. We just made two mistakes.”
Coach Alder was also pleased with the reaction of the fans who came to the match.
“They were great support for us,” Alder said. “I mean, you talk about the 12th man and they were energetic. They brought a lot of enthusiasm. I’m just disappointed that we weren’t able to get a tie out of this game, or maybe a win.”
Talking about the Liberty men’s soccer team’s hopes and expectations for the season, Alder also said that they are aiming to win championships in the Big South and use soccer as a platform to share the gospel with others.
Liberty University men’s soccer team will be travelling to Farmville, Va., to compete against Longwood University on Sept 1.