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Liberty Opens Conference Play at Radford

September 17, 2010
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Liberty defenders Brian Edman and Greg White

The Liberty Flames men's soccer team will begin Big South Conference action, Saturday. The Flames (3-1-1) will travel to Radford, Va., for a match against the Radford Highlanders (1-2-1). Match time at Patrick D. Cupp Stadium is scheduled for 6 p.m. The match will serve as the conference-opening game for both teams.

How to Follow the Flames
Live stats for Saturday's contest will be available on LibertyFlames.com by clicking the live stats link on the men's soccer schedule/results page. The live stats will be provided courtesy of the Radford Athletic Communications Office.

A Look at Liberty
The Flames dropped from the ranks of the unbeaten, Wednesday night, falling at Appalachian State, 2-1.
With the setback in the non-conference match, Liberty moves to 3-1-1 on the year.

Phillip Aseweh's third goal of the season in the 52nd minute, Wednesday, was the lone Flame marker in the goal. With the tally, Aseweh leads the Big South Conference and Head Coach Jeff Alder's (90-70-16, 10th Year) team in scoring with nine points on three goals and three assists.

Liberty has received balanced scoring so far in 2010, with six different players netting goals through the first five games. The Flames top the Big South in goals per game (2.60), while ranking second in the conference in goals allowed (4) and goals-against average (.077).

Thad Taylor, Darren Amoo and Aseweh have each scored three goals to lead both the conference and the Flames in goals scored. Amoo will enter Saturday's match second in the Big South in points with seven points (3g -1a).

Paul Gilbert has started all five games as the Liberty goalkeeper, posting 0.80 goals-against average and recording 13 saves.

All-Time Against Radford
Saturday's match between the Flames and Highlanders will be the 46th meeting between the two schools on the soccer field. Liberty had met Radford the most times of any school in soccer, with the Flames holding a 24-13-8 mark in the all-time series.

Liberty and Radford have met in the Big South Conference opening match each of the past four years, with the Highlanders holding a 1-2-1 record. Last season, Liberty and Radford played to a 0-0 draw in their regular season meeting at Osborne Stadium in the Big South opener for both teams on Sept. 19.

Later in the year, the No. 3 seeded Flames advanced to the conference's championship game with a 2-0 win over the No. 7 seeded Highlanders in the semifinals of the Big South Championship in Boiling Springs, N.C. on Nov. 14. Forward Darren Amoo scored his 14th goal of the year to give Liberty a lead it did not relinquish in the 23rd minute of the game. Goalkeeper Panashe Nhekairo recorded a shutout in his first collegiate start, with help from current Liberty defenders Greg White, Chris Osborne and Brian Edman.

A Look at Radford
Saturday's contest with the Flames will be the home opener for the Highlanders, who have opened 2010 with a 1-2-1 record. The last time Radford took to the soccer field, they tied Georgia Southern, 1-1, at the Flash Gordon Motors Invitational at High Point, N.C. on Sept. 12.

Through four contests, the Highlanders have averaged 1.25 goals per game for first-year head coach Marc Reeves. Radford has been outscored by its opponents, 9-5.

Midfielder Iyiola Awosika, the 2008 Big South Freshman of the Year, leads the Highlanders with two goals and four points. Bernardo Ulmo, Mike Handlin and Brian Gwanzura have also scored a goal apiece for Radford.

Junior Ryan Taylor has started all four Highlander matches in the Radford goal. The second-year starter has posted a 2.09 goals-against average and made 17 saves, so far this season.

The Highlanders return 19 letterwinners from last season's 5-9-3 team, which finished eighth in the Big South with a 1-4-3 record.

Against the Big South
Liberty will be playing its 20th Big South opener, Saturday night. The Flames have recorded a 9-7-3 mark in those contests.

Of their 19 conference openers, Liberty has faced Radford six times, posting a 2-3-1 record. The Flames and Highlanders have met in the Big South opening game for both teams each of the past four seasons.

Overall, Liberty is 78-46-11 in Big South action. The Flames have posted a .500 or better conference ledger in 17 out of their 19 seasons. In 2007, Liberty won its lone Big South Championship and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time.

Road Warriors
After opening the 2010 season at home on Sept. 1, the Flames have taken to the road. Liberty's contest at Radford, Saturday night, will be its fifth of seven straight games away from Osborne Stadium. Seven consecutive road games ties the most games away from Lynchburg for the Flames in program history.

The last time Liberty had seven consecutive road games on its schedule was in 1986. That year, Head Coach Bill Bell's team finished its campaign with seven consecutive road games.

This season, the Flames opened their road trips with a win at Longwood on Sept. 4 and it will finish in Rock Hill, S.C., on Sept. 25. Five of the contests have been true road games, while two were on a neutral field, VMI's Patchin Field, during the Sculley Memorial Tournament in Lexington, Va., Sept. 10-12.

So far through the first four games of the span, Liberty has posted a 2-1-1 mark.

In October, Liberty will enjoy some "home cooking", as the schedule swings to matches at Osborne Stadium. The Flames will play six of the final nine scheduled matches of 2010 at home. In addition, of their three away games, Liberty only leaves the Commonwealth of Virginia on Oct. 15 for a Big South contest at Presbyterian.

Starting and Finishing?
For the third consecutive season, the Liberty-Radford contest will begin the Big South Conference season. Two of the three years, the Flames also ended up playing in the final conference game, reaching the Big South title game.

Liberty defeated Radford, 3-0, at the former Liberty Soccer Field on Sept. 12 to begin the 2007 season. The Flames later beat Highlanders, 2-1, for the Big South Championship on Nov. 18, the final game of the year.

In 2009, Liberty and Radford played to a 0-0 tie in the first Big South match of the year at Osborne Stadium on Sept. 19. The Flames then closed out the 2009 conference year, falling to Winthrop in the Big South Championship on Nov. 15.

Balancing Act Continues
The 2009 Flames showed strong play both defensively and offensively, finishing the year, ranked fifth nationally in scoring offense by averaging 2.15 goals per game and seventh in the country in team goals-against average with a 0.53 GAA.

So far this season, Jeff Alder's team has exhibited the same balance. In the first NCAA Statistical Report of the season released this past Tuesday, the Flames rank eighth nationally in scoring offense, averaging three goals per game. On the defensive side of things, Liberty ranks 19th among Division I soccer programs, with a 0.47 goals-against average.

Trio Named to All-Tournament Team
Forward Darren Amoo, goalkeeper Paul Gilbert and defender Uriah Bentick were selected to the 2010 Sculley Memorial All-Tournament team this past Sunday. The Sculley Memorial Tournament was held at VMI's Patchin Field, last Friday and Sunday.

Amoo scored a goal in Liberty's tie with Marshall, Friday, while Bentick netted a goal and had an assist in the Flames' 3-1 win over St. Francis, Sunday. Gilbert provided Liberty with strong efforts in goal, recording a season-high six saves in Friday's game and four saves, Sunday.

Alder Reaches 90 Wins
With Liberty's 3-1 victory over St. Francis (N.Y.), Sunday, Head Coach Jeff Alder reached career win No. 90. In his 10th season as the Flames head coach, Alder has posted a 90-69-16 career mark.
Alder's teams have averaged nearly 10 victories per season (9.67) over the Liberty graduate's first nine seasons. In addition, he is the only coach to lead the Flames to a Big South Championship and a NCAA Tournament berth, doing so in 2007.

In the past three seasons, Liberty has recorded 10 or more victories each year, the longest consecutive double-digit season win total streak in the coach's tenure.

A Look Ahead
In the midst of a seven-game road swing, the Flames will visit our nation's capital, Tuesday. Liberty will square off with the Howard Bison in a non-conference match at Greene Stadium. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m.