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Liberty Men's Soccer Hosts Bluefield for 2014 Season Opener
The Liberty Flames men's soccer team will open its 2014 campaign by hosting the Bluefield Rams, Friday at Osborne Stadium. The contest will be the first contest of the season for both teams and is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.
The contest will begin the 40th year of Flames men's soccer and the 14th season under the guidance of Liberty alumnus head coach Jeff Alder (127-92-22, 13 seasons).
How to Follow the Flames
A free live video stream courtesy of the Liberty Flames Sports Network and the Big South Network will be available by clicking the appropriate link on schedule/results panel under men's soccer on LibertyFlames.com.
Live stats powered by StatBroadcast will also be available for the contest by clicking the appropriate link on the men's soccer schedule/results panel of LibertyFlames.com.
A Look at Liberty
The Flames will look to build upon last season's trip to Big South Conference title game last season, as they begin 2014.
Liberty returns several key members of last season's 11-9 team, including five players which started 12 or more games last year. Among the returnees for the Flames are 2013 team leading scorer Sachem Wilson, Tim Harbison, Blessing Tahuona, Jamie Foxwell and Murphy Short. In addition, goalkeepers Scott Sutarik and Jeremy Lee, who each saw significant minutes in goal last season, return.
Liberty will have to rely on underclassman, as Sutarik is the only senior on the Flames' roster. Of the 25 players on the Liberty roster, 15 are either a sophomore or freshman.
Liberty is 25-14 all-time in season openers and 8-5 during Alder's tenure. The Flames defeated Georgia State, 1-0, last season in Atlanta, Ga., to open their campaign.
A Look at Bluefield
Bluefield will take the field for the first time under head coach Chase Neidig on Friday evening. Neidig takes over for Bluefield Athletic Director Peter Dryer, who coached the Rams from 2010-13.
The Rams return 15 players from an 8-10-1 season. This season, Bluefield returns to the Appalachian Athletics Conference for the first time since 2011.
Friday night's meeting will be the third meeting between the Flames and the Rams on the pitch. The two teams last met to begin the 2010 season. Liberty leads the all-time series, 2-0.
Flames News and Notes
- Sachem Wilson had a breakout season in 2013. The midfielder lead the Flames with 23 points on 10 goals and three assists. He was twice named Big South Attacking Player of the Week and at season's end was named to the VaSID All-State team.
- The lone senior on the Liberty roster, Scott Sutarik was a key player in Flames' run to the 2013 Big South title game. The goalkeeper made seven saves in a 1-0 win at High Point in the Big South Quarterfinals and was strong in net during a 2-0 victory over Longwood in the semifinals. He enters the year with a 0.91 career goals-against average, which ranks third all-time in program history.
- Tim Harbison has started every game in his first two seasons at Liberty (38 matches). The junior posted career-highs in 2013, scoring five goals and posting 12 points.
- Blessing Tahouna joined Haribson and Wilson in reaching double-digits in points last season. Tahouna lead the Flames with four assists. The trio combined to score 18 goals, 62 percent of Liberty offensive output in 2013.
- Last season, Liberty averaged 1.45 goals per game, while allowing 1.25 goals. The Flames posted seven shutouts.
A Look Ahead
Liberty travels to Lexington, Va. for a match against the VMI Keydets. Match time is scheduled for 4 p.m. A former member of the Big South Conference, the Keydets returned to the Southern Conference this season.
The match is one of three the Flames are scheduled to play in Lexington this season. Liberty will participate in a tournament at VMI, Sept. 12-14. Robert Morris and USC Upstate will join the Flames and Keydets in the field.