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Liberty Closes Out Regular Season With 4-1 Victory Over VMI
With the win, Liberty completes its Big South slate at 5-1 and its 2007 regular-season campaign at 10-4-2. It is the first time since 2002, the Flames have posted 10 wins in a season. Currently second in the Big South standings, Liberty now awaits the outcome of the remaining conference schedule, which ends this weekend, to find out its seeding for the 2007 Big South Men's Soccer Championship. VMI drops to 2-3-1 in the conference and 6-9-3 overall.
The Flames quickly jumped out to a 1-0 advantage just 2:03 into the contest. Midfielder Chris Mandell (Jr., MF, Bowling Green, Va.) put a pass into the penalty area for Liberty senior Adrian Bumbut (F, Zalau, Romania). The forward, playing in his last home game in a Liberty uniform, took the feed in stride and blasted a shot into the top right-hand corner of the net for his 12th goal of the year and the Flames' first tally of the night. Defender Andrew Kappler (Sr., Bear, Del.) also picked up an assist on the play.
Liberty added to its lead in the 14th minute. Off a corner kick by Joshua Boateng (Jr., MF, Accra, Ghana), midfielder Daniel McGarry (Jr., MF, Philadelphia, Pa.) rifled a loose ball in front past a diving Keydet keeper for his first marker of the season and a 2-0 Flames edge.
The second half opened with VMI getting an opportunity to cut into the Liberty lead on a penalty kick after a foul by the Flames at 47:29. However, Liberty goalkeeper Paul Gilbert (Fr., Rockvale, Tenn.) batted away the kick by Chris Curtis with a diving save to keep the Keydets off the scoreboard.
At 49:31, the Flames upped their advantage to 3-0 on a penalty kick due to a VMI foul in the penalty area. Midfielder Juan Guzman (So., Charlotte, N.C.) beat the VMI keeper on the kick for his second goal of the year.
After the score, Liberty continued its pressure, as a shot by Mandell was punched out by Keydet netminder Brian Sowell in the 54th minute. The loose ball was scooped up by Flames defender Douglas Nyame (Jr., Kumasi, Ghana), who fired a shot which had to be cleared by a VMI defender off the goal line and out of harm's way.
Senior Justin Willoughby (F, Greenville, N.C.) made it 4-0, Liberty in the 63rd minute. The forward, donning his Liberty jersey at Liberty Soccer Field for the last time, beat several defenders and put a shot off the crossbar and into the back of the net. The goal was his second of the year.
The Flames allowed the only goal by an opponent in seven matches at Liberty Soccer Field this season at 89:40. A pass lofted into the box by VMI's Jose Andueza was headed down by Brian Harding in front of the Liberty goal. David Hill scored his second goal of the season for the final 4-1 margin.
For the game, Liberty outshot VMI 16-9, while each team had four corner kicks.
Gilbert recorded four saves in the Flames' net, while Sowell recorded three for the visitors.
Before the contest, the 11 seniors on the Liberty roster who were donning their Flames uniform for the final time in a home contest at Liberty Soccer Field were honored. Bumbut, Willoughby, Kappler, David Cassidy (D, Hughesville, Pa.), Dan Garber (D/M, Matthews, N.C.), Mike Gelatt (D, Indianapolis, Ind.), Jeremiah Kappler (MF, Bear, Del.), John Letsen (MF, Castleton, Va.), Toby Lewis (F, Morrison, Colo.), David McCall (MF, Philadelphia, Pa.) and Brandon Patterson (MF, Lakeland, Fla.) were recognized.
Liberty now awaits the outcome of the remaining conference games to find out its seeding and first opponent for next week's Big South Men's Soccer Championship hosted by Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C. The tournament opens on Nov. 15 with three matches at Eagle Field.