Nov 10, 2009

Men’s soccer heads to Big South Championship

by Axel Cerny

With two wins in the last week of play, the Liberty men’s soccer team marched into the double digit win mark for the third straight season, and built momentum for a Big South Conference title.

Junior goalkeeper Andrew Madero was honest and optimistic about where the club stands right now.

“It’s a long season and it wears on you, but we’re playing well right now and definitely carrying some momentum into the tournament,” Madero said.

The Flames entered the last week of regular season play with an 8-3-3 mark overall and 2-1-2 standing in conference. Originally, they had only been slated to play two matches in their final week, but after last week’s game against High Point was postponed due to rain causing poor field conditions, the Flames had to add a game at High Point to the mix.

The Flames held their final home match of the year on Monday night against the VMI Keydets. Liberty enjoyed a great Senior Night victory, dominating the Keydets in more ways than the 2-0 scoreboard would show. The Flames jumped ahead in the 22nd minute on a strike from forward Darren Amoo into the top half of the net, his team-leading 12th goal of the year.

In the 60th minute, midfielder Phillip Aseweh ran onto a pass on the left side of the box and carefully slid his shot into the lower right corner of the net. Liberty outshot VMI 26-8 and won the corner kick comparison 6-0.

Before the contest, the five seniors on the Flames roster were recognized. Defenders Chris Mandell and Michael Ward, along with midfielder Juan Guzman, forward Kyle Probst and forward Andrew Scheck were acknowledged for their service to God through soccer.

The shutout was the 10th of the year for the Flames and helped Head Coach Jeff Alder’s team finish its home schedule with an 8-0-1 record. The men’s squad did not just beat teams at home over the course of this year — it dominated them, outscoring opponents 30-1 at Osborne Stadium. With the loss, the Keydets dropped to 1-6 in the Big South and 2-13-1 overall.

On Wednesday evening, Liberty went to High Point, N.C., to battle the Panthers in a match that paired two of the teams atop the Big South standings. The Flames dropped a heartbreaker as they brought the game to a 1-1 tie after a goal in the 83rd minute, only to watch the Panthers answer right back in the 86th.

After a scoreless first half, High Point struck just minutes into the second period, as midfielder Matt Tuttle redirected a cross into the lower right corner of the net. Thirty minutes later, with the final 10 minutes waning down, Liberty midfielder Chris Phillips picked up a loose ball at the top of the box, made a move around a defender and scored his third goal of the year to make the score 1-1. Just three minutes later, the Panthers regained the lead for good, thanks to a shot off the foot of Karo Okiomah into the right corner of the net.

The Flames outshot the Panthers 11-7, but High Point held the edge in corner kick 8-6. With the 2-1 loss, the Flames dropped to 3-2-2 in Big South play and 9-4-3 overall. With the win, High Point moves to 5-1-2 in the Big South and 9-5-2 on the season.

Coming off a tough loss to High Point, Liberty needed a win to close out the season on Saturday in Asheville, N.C., against the UNC Asheville Bulldogs. The Flames found themselves against the ropes at the half, down 1-0 off a penalty kick in the 43rd minute.

The Flames came out after halftime determined to bounce back and steal a victory from the Bulldogs. Midfielder Juan Nino broke free from defenders and slotted a pass to leading scorer Darren Amoo, who continued his fantastic performance this year and buried his shot into the lower corner of the net at the 48th minute mark.

Liberty found the net again 30 minutes later, as midfielder Chris Phillips fought off a defender and slipped a ball by the keeper for his fourth goal of the year. Liberty locked up a No. 3 seed for the Big South Tournament with the win.

“This game and the importance is going to set the pace for the next week. The 2-1 comeback on the road definitely builds some momentum for the tournament,” Madero said.

The Flames will open up the Big South Tournament on Nov. 12 in a rematch against UNC Asheville in High Point, N.C., where all Big South tournament games will be played.

Contact Axel Cerny at

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