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Flames Head to Big South Championship
LIBERTY ENTERS BIG SOUTH CHAMPIONSHIP AS NO. 3 SEED
The Liberty Flames enter the 2009 Big South Championship as the No. 3 seed. Liberty ended conference play with a 4-2-2 record in the regular season, tying with Winthrop for third place in the standings. The Flames garnered the No. 3 seed due to defeating the Eagles, 3-0, on Oct. 31.
Overall, Liberty has posted a 10-4-3 mark on the season. The Flames have outscored opponents, 39-9, in 17 games this year.
FOUR DAYS LATER
Liberty and the No. 6 seed UNC Asheville Bulldogs wil be meeting for the second time in six days, Friday, in the third game of the afternoon at 5 p.m.
The Flames and Bulldogs met this past Saturday, with Liberty taking a 2-1 victory in Asheville, N.C. Second-half goals by Darren Amoo and Chris Phillips propelled Liberty to the win.
The winner of Friday's match will meet the winner of No. 2 seed High Point and No. 7 seed Radford, Saturday at 7 p.m.
THE SERIES AGAINST UNC ASHEVILLE
Friday's contest will be the 26th all-time match-up between Liberty and UNC Asheville on the soccer pitch. With its win on Saturday, the Flames lead the series, 18-5-2.
LAST TIME AT THE BIG SOUTH CHAMPIONSHIP
The No. 5 seed Flames played No. 1 seed Winthrop to a 1-1 tie through two overtime kicks in the semifinals on Nov. 14, 2008, at CCU Soccer Field. After the extra periods, the Eagles advanced on penalty kicks, 5-4.
Senior forward Joshua Boateng and senior midfielder Cameron Chastain were named to the 2008 All-Tournament team.
LIBERTY IN THE BIG SOUTH CHAMPIONSHIP
Liberty is 17-15-2 in Big South Championship matches since joining the conference for the 1991 season.
The Flames' most common opponent in the tournament has been Winthrop. Liberty holds a slim 5-3-1 all-time edge over the Eagles in the tournament.
Liberty has played Radford six times in the tournament and has a 4-1-1 mark against the Highlanders.
The only other teams the Flames have meet more than three times in the annual event is former conference member UNC Greensboro and High Point. UNC Greensboro won each of its four meetings with Liberty in the the Big South Championship.
Liberty has also played Charleston Southern (1-0), Coastal Carolina (0-1), High Point (2-1) and UNC Asheville (3-0) among current members.
The Flames have also played former conference members Birmingham-Southern (1-2), Elon (1-1) and South Alabama (0-2) in the tournament.
Liberty is 1-4 all-time in the title game, winning in 2007 overRadford.
HEAD COACH JEFF ALDER
Jeff Alder is in his ninth season as the head coach of his alma mater, Liberty. Coming into Friday's game, Alder has compiled a 85-66-15 overall record and a 38-20-6 mark in Big Souh Conference play.
For the third consecutive season, Alder has led the Flames to a double-digit win total and the fourth time during his tenure.
During Alder's tenure, his alma mater has never finished at or below .500 in the Big South regular season, while posting a 8-6-1 mark in the Big South Championship.
In 2007, he led Liberty to the program's first-ever Big South Championship and NCAA Tournament berth. The Flames also reached the conference final under Alder in 2001.
The nine year head coach has been synonymous with the Liberty's men's soccer program, having played for the Flames from 1987-90 and then spending nine years as an assistant coach to Bill Bell. Alder graduated from Liberty in 1991.
A TRIO OF DOUBLE DIGITS
For the third straight year, Liberty has posted 10 or more wins in season. This year, the Flames have matched last season's victory total of 10. In 2008, Liberty recorded a 10-5-3 mark.
The Flames began the streak by reaching the second-highest win total in program history with a 13-5-2 record.
In addition, Liberty has posted four consecutive seasons with a winning record. The span began in 2006 with a 9-6 record.
Liberty is 4-1 over its last five games to close its regular season. The Flames have shut out their opponents in three of their four victories over the five contests.
HOME SWEET HOME
Liberty completed its home schedule unbeaten, posting an 8-0-1 record this season at Osborne Stadium. The Flames allowed only one goal at home in 2009, outscoring opponents, 30-1.
In addition, head coach Jeff Alder's team is unbeaten in its last 12 home matches (10-0-2), yielding only one goal over the stretch.
AMONG NATION'S ELITE
Liberty is among the top teams in the country in several categories in the recent NCAA Ranking Summary through games of Nov. 8.
With a 0.51 average, the Flames rank fifth in the nation in team goals-against average. The mark also leads the Big South Conference. Liberty also is listed No. 13 in the country with a .850 team save percentage.
The Flames are also among the top 10 in the country in scoring offense and shutout percentage. Liberty ranks seventh in shutout percentage with a 0.59 shutout percentage, as the Flames have blanked 10 of their 17 opponents this season.
On the offensive side of things, Jeff Alder's team enters the week ranked fourth in the nation in scoring offense, averaging 2.29 goals per contest. The Flames also lead the Big South in the category.
ON THE ATTACK
Entering Friday's contest, the Flames have scored 39 goals. Twelve Liberty players have scored at least one goals on the year, with four scoring four or more. Four Flames have already reached double-digit point totals this season.
Forward Darren Amoo is one of two Flames with 20 or more points this season. He leads Liberty with 13 goals and has added four assists. His season point total ranks eighth all-time in school annuals. In addition, his goal total ties him for sixth on the program's single-season goal list.
Amoo enters Friday's contest sixth in the country with .76 goals per game and is 10th in the nation with 1.76 points per game. The forward tops the Big South in several categories including goals, points and goals per game. He is also tied for the conference lead with four game-winning goals.
Joining Amoo with 20 points is sophomore forward Phillip Aseweh. The forward enters Friday's contest with seven goals and six assists. He ranks fourth in the Big South in points and goals. Aseweh also is tied for sixth in the conference in assists.
Sophomores Timothy Bullock and Juan Niño have also reached double-digit point totals. Bullock has netted four goals and three assists for 11 points on the season. Niño has a team-high eight assists and has scored a goal for 10 points. The midfielder's assist total ties him of second in the Big South in the category. In addition, his eight assists tie him with eight other players on the program's single season assist list.
In nine of Liberty's victories this season, the Flames have scored the first goal of the contest. The lone exception came this past Saturday at UNC Asheville, when Jeff Alder's team scored two second half goals, enroute to a 2-1 win over the Bulldogs.
The only time Liberty has netted the game's first goal and failed to go on to a win was on Oct. 20 at Gardner-Webb. After the Flames scored early in the second half, the Bulldog's responded with two unanswered goals for a 2-1 victory.
Entering Friday's contest, the Flames have allowed nine goals during the 17-game regular season and shut out 10 opponents. Liberty ranks fifth in the nation with a 0.51 team goals-against average and is seventh in the country in shutout percentage (0.59).
Keying the solid effort are senior team captains Chris Mandell and Michael Ward, along with junior Chris Osborne and redshirt freshman Greg White. The four defenders have started every game this season.
Backing the unit as the last line of defense has been junior goalkeeper Andrew Madero. The junior started every game between the posts this year, logging over 1527 minutes. He has recorded a 0.47 goals-against average and .860 save percentage.
Madero ranks fourth nationally in goals-against and 10th in save percentage. The keeper leads the Big South in both categories and also in shutouts with nine. He was named the conference's player of the week for Oct. 20 after making a career-high eight saves in a 1-1 tie at then No. 11 Virginia on Oct. 13.
IN THE REGIONAL RANKINGS
Liberty finished the regular season tied for 10th in the NSCAA South Atlantic Regional rankings with fellow Big South member Coastal Carolina. The Flames appeared in the poll eight of the 10 weeks the rankings were conducted.
Liberty was listed as high as eighth in the poll, being ranked in the position three times from week five through week seven.
Wk 2: RV
Wk 3: 10th
Wk 4: 10th
WK 5: 8th
Wk 6: 8th
Wk 7: 8th
Wk 9: 10th
Final RS: 10th