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2011 Men's Soccer Season Outlook
With eight out of 11 starters and 17 players returning from last season, the Liberty Flames men's soccer team enters the 2011 season looking to post its fifth consecutive double-digit victory total and capture a Big South crown.
After sporting a potent offense in 2010, the Flames return nine out of the 10 goal scorers from last season's 10-7-1 squad, which ranked 21st in the country in scoring offense by averaging 1.94 goals per game. Liberty, which outscored its opponents by a 35-17 margin in 2010, also led the Big South Conference in goals allowed, with a 0.93 goals per game average.
"We have a lot of guys on our roster who have proven themselves over time in big games," stated Jeff Alder, who begins his 11th year as head coach and his 25th overall at Liberty. "We like the experience that our team has and the fact that they understand the importance of pulling on a Liberty jersey each day and representing something bigger themselves.
"It has allowed the older guys to give back and help the younger guys understand what our team is about and using our God-given talents to use soccer as platform to share our faith with others.
"We are excited that we have a lot of guys back who have been in the program, and hopefully our experience and depth will put us in a place to give us a chance in November to get back to the winner's circle by capturing a Big South championship."
A Look at the Flames by Position:
One of the places that the Flames experience and depth shows is at the forward position. Among the returnees at the position are: two-time NSCAA All-South Atlantic Region and Big South all-conference team member, Darren Amoo; senior Timothy Bullock; junior Travis Joseph and redshirt sophomore Kyle Breitmeyer.
"We feel we have a stable of forwards which we can throw at our opponents to give them a lot of different looks and match-up problems during a game," commented Alder. "Obviously, Darren Amoo has a fantastic history with our program on the field, has done well academically and is a dynamic Christian athlete, who we feel can go out and have a special year.
For the second consecutive season, Amoo led the Big South with 12 goals, while adding three assists for 27 points in 2010. Bullock had four goals in 2010, after being named to the All-Big South second team in 2009.
Joining the already deep unit are freshmen Austin Wyman and Jacob Sebold.
Over the past several years, Liberty teams have been strong in the midfield and the 2011 edition of the Flames looks no different. 2010 All-Big South midfielder Phillip Aseweh returns for his senior season and, along with senior Juan F. Niño, will form a solid core at the position for the Flames this year.
According to Alder, Aseweh, who posted 15 points on four goals and seven assists in 2010, will been seen in both the midfield and at forward under the Flames attacking system. Meanwhile, Niño will enter the year with 14 career assists, one shy of cracking the program's top 10 assist leaders.
Joining those two in the midfield will be newcomer Junior Amaya and returner Richard Nyarko. Amaya brings experience with the U.S. U-17 National team, while Nyarko saw significant minutes in the latter part of the season and, according to Alder, comes off a very good spring.
Juan F. Niño's brother, Juan J., will also see time in the midfield, along with fellow returners, junior Zack Clark and junior Andrew Jones. Transfer Timothy Hankins who will also compete for minutes in the midfield.
Versatile senior Alex Verville may also see time in the midfield, as Alder states that he could at forward, midfielder and defender. Verville played in all 18 Liberty games last season, compiling seven points on two goals and three assists.
"When you look at what we have in the midfield, we have a lot of depth," continued the Flames head coach. "We can be interchangeable and change our style of play during the game. I think these guys will be able to cover a lot of ground and help us keep and maintain possession of the ball."
"We have a lot of guys with game experience back there," noted Alder. "Obviously for us, the integrity of our back line will be critical in allowing us to keep the ball out of the net consistently. Uriah has had an outstanding time at Liberty and has become an exceptional two-way player for us, while Greg has started every game since he has been here. He is rock solid and passionate, organizes the defense and is really enthusiastic about helping others get better."
Bentick had a breakout season in 2010, earning NSCAA All-South Atlantic Region and first team All-Big South mentions. He had three goals and one assist, while starting all 18 games last season. Meanwhile, White has been in the starting line-up for each of Liberty's 38 games during his first two years on the Liberty roster. Last season, he scored a goal and added two assists.
Sam Duininck, who emerged at the end of the 2010 season, also returns to the defensive unit. The sophomore saw significant minutes in the midfield and on defense during his maiden campaign with the Flames.
Joining the group for his final year with the Flames is Chris Phillips. During his first three years at Liberty, he has been a fixture in the starting line-up, playing both as midfielder and defender. "Chris is another outstanding leader for our team," stated Alder. "He has the strong will to win and a desire to help others to improve."
Newcomers Henry Reyes, Jr., a transfer, and Greg Terrell , who both joined the team for the 2011 spring semester will compete for minutes.
For the first time in four years, there is no incumbent at goalkeeper. The Flames have four keepers on the roster and, according to Alder, anyone could see time in the Liberty net.
"The competition at goalkeeper is wide open. When you look at the four guys we have at the position, we have some of the best depth we have had in a long time. The race at the goalkeeper is wide open, but it is definitely something we feel good about."
The Flames return two netminders in redshirt freshmen Sam Chapell and Scott McKinney, who have had one year in the system, while Josh Pacella and Scott Sutarik, who played at high levels before coming to Liberty, round out the competitors.
"Once we get to game action, we will see how things play out over time. With the four we have at the position, we like the future we have in goal."