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Flames Host Concord to Open 2009 Season
Riding an eight-game unbeaten streak which started in 2008, the Liberty Flames men's soccer team will welcome the Concord Mountain Lions (1-0) to Osborne Stadium, Tuesday at 7 p.m. to begin their 2009 campaign.
How to Follow the Flames
Live stats for Tuesday's contest will be available on LibertyFlames.com by clicking the live stats link on the men's soccer schedule/results page or by clicking the link at the top of this page.
A Look at Liberty
The Liberty Flames, coached by Jeff Alder (75-64-12, entering his ninth season), are coming off their second consecutive year of double-digit wins in 2008. The Flames followed 2007's Big South Championship season and 13-5-2 mark, with a 10-5-3 ledger last season.
Twenty players return from last year's squad for the Flames, which was picked fourth by the league's coaches in the Big South's Preseason Poll. However, only 10 points separated Liberty from Winthrop, the league's preseason favorite.
Among those returning for the Flames is two-time South Atlantic All-Region midfielder Juan Guzman (Sr., Charlotte, N.C.), defender Michael Ward (R-Sr., Seffner, Fla.), a three-year starter, and midfielder Juan Niño (So., Katy, Texas), a 2008 Big South All-Freshman team member.
In addition, junior goalkeepers Andrew Madero (Tampa, Fla.) and Paul Gilbert (Rockvale, Tenn.) return to the Liberty roster after sharing the duties between the posts last year.
Madero led the Big South Conference with a 0.68 goals-against average last season and helped the Flames closed the season unbeaten in eight straight contests, while Gilbert was Big South Freshman of the Year in 2007.
Liberty's roster will be boosted by the return of forward Darren Amoo (R-So., Accra, Ghana) and six newcomers. Amoo scored four goals in his first three games, before suffering a season-ending injury in 2008.
The Flames will attempt to win their fourth consecutive season opener, Tuesday, against Concord. Liberty began 2008 with a 3-1 victory over Bluefield, dropped Mount Vernon Nazarene, 3-0, in 2007 and defeated Longwood, 1-0 in two overtimes, in the 2006 opener.
Liberty ended the 2008 season with the seventh-longest unbeaten streak in the nation (5-0-3). Also, the third longest streak in program history, the Flames will carry it into tonight's game with the Mountain Lions.
The 1985 Liberty team under head coach Bill Bell went 14 consecutive games without a loss, while the Flames had another unbeaten run of 12 games spanning the 1982-83 campaigns.
A Look at Concord
Concord, located in Athens, W.Va., began its 2009 season, Saturday, with a 2-1 overtime victory over Chestnut Hill at the Holy Family Invitational in Philadelphia, Pa. The Mountain Lions were scheduled to face the tournament host, Holy Family on Sunday. However, the match was canceled due to rain.
Against Chestnut Hill on Saturday, Concord's Ryan Grimmet scored in the fifth minute off a corner kick to take an early 1-0 advantage, only to see the Griffins tie the contest in the final minute of regulation with a goal of their own on a corner kick. Less than two minutes into the extra stanza, midfielder Scotty Fuston ripped a shot into the right upper corner of the net from 40 yards out to give Concord the victory. Jaime Greenwood played all 91:59 in goal for the Mountain Lions, making five saves.
Concord is coached by Steve Barrett, who played for Liberty in 1984. Barrett has coached both the men's and women's soccer teams during his 10 years at the school. After Concord dropped the men's program in 2003, the Mountain Lion men returned last season, posting a 5-12 record.