The Liberty Flames fell to the Radford Highlanders Saturday night in their first conference game this season, 0-1.
Since opening the season with a 6-0 victory over Bluefield at Osbourne stadium, the Flames have played each of their ensuing games on the road.
The Flames traveled to Boone, N.C., and fell to the Mountaineers by a goal last Wednesday night 1-2.
“I felt Appalachian State was a little (hungrier) than us,” Flames coach Jeff Adler said. “(We) didn’t close the game out.”
While Adler described the loss as a “bitter pill to swallow,” he emphasized the opportunities games present for his team to share the Gospel.
The Flames anticipated a tough game against Radford Saturday. Adler said he wanted the players to stay “even keeled” emotionally.
“Conference games take on a life of their own at (times),” Adler said. “We don’t want to become hijacked emotionally.”
The Flames battled competitively against the Highlanders. Both teams took 12 shots, but the Highlander’s Iyiola Awosika scored the only goal of the game in the second half, giving Radford the win.
“(The) energy level was good, I just think we were a bit unlucky to not find the back of the net,” senior midfielder Thad Taylor said. “That’s how soccer goes sometimes but we will get it worked out.”
Taylor has come off the bench to score six goals for the Flames this season.
The Flames will try and work it out as they play catch up with the rest of the Big South.
“I think we have to take it one game at a time,” junior goalkeeper Paul Gilbert said. “Obviously we have not gotten the results we have wanted out of the last two games, but I think we have learned a lot from them which will serve us well in the future.”
The Flames will try and put those lessons to work as they continue to play a tough road schedule before they return to Osbourne Stadium Oct. 1 against Coastal Carolina.
“We have been hunted—we’ve got to start all over and be the hunters,” Adler said. “We’ve got to be (hungrier) than the guys we’re playing against.”
The Flames will focus on their goals and their game as they go back to work at practice.
“We just need to focus on our next game and leave everything on the field and after 90 minutes the result will take care of itself,” Taylor said.
Adler said he wanted to “reinforce what we’re about—we’re not changing a whole lot because we are who we are.”
Adler emphasizes team unity and the overall process of soccer.
“I love our guys—they are a group that is sold out to serving God through soccer,” Adler said. “Whether you’re coming off the bench, whether you’re starting or whether you’re an encourager—everybody plays an integral role.”
The Flames are now 3-2-1 overall and 0-1 in the Big South. They will continue to take their show on the road as they travel to Washington D.C., to play Howard University on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
SAWYER is a sports reporter.