Two goals in a span of 1:09 propelled the Liberty Flames past the Bluefield Rams, 2-1, Friday evening at Osborne Stadium. The contest was the 2015 season opener for both teams
Liberty senior forwards Blessing Tahuona and Tyler Bullock each scored his first goal of the season, 69 seconds apart, to give Flames the victory.
Trailing 1-0, Tahuona collected a pass into the center of the 18-yard box by Geovanny Murillo and ripped a shot into the left side of the net, tying the contest at 69:48.
Moments later, midfielder Kurt Meyers sent a crossing pass from the right side of the box in front of the goal for Bullock, who beat the Bluefield goalkeeper with a blast into the upper right of net for a 2-1 Liberty lead.
Flames goalkeeper Jeremy Lee made three saves, while Rams goalkeeper Oscar Hernandez recorded seven saves.
Liberty moves to 1-0 on the year. Bluefield drops to 0-1. For the second straight season, the Flames defeated the Rams to open the season. Last season, Liberty defeated Bluefield by the same score of 2-1 at Osborne Stadium.
The visitors took a 1-0 lead during the 17th minute. Midfielder Florian Gleissner took a pass at the top left corner of the box and elevated a shot high over Lee's reach, finding the upper right corner of the goal for a Bluefield advantage.
Later in the first half, Hernandez made two diving saves to keep the score 1-0 at halftime. During the 37th minute, midfielder Alan Arellano received a pass at the right post and tried to lift a shot over the diving Rams keeper. Hernandez smothered the attempt by going to the ground and gaining control of the shot.
Off a corner kick in the 44th minute, a header by Nico Bellarde was also grabbed by Hernandez, as the Bluefield goalkeeper dove out stop the shot.
In the second half, the Flames' attacking pressure forced Bluefield to the counterattack, as Liberty outshot the Rams, 10-2.
Less than seven minutes in the final half of regulation, a shot by Liberty midfielder Khalil Karl hit the right post, keeping the Flames from tying the contest.
After a rising shot by Bullock was knocked over the goal's crossbar by Hernandez in the 67th minute, Liberty's attack resulted in three consecutive corner kick over the next minute.
The Flames then struck for their two goals, starting in the 69th minute to take the lead for good.
In the 75th minute, Bluefield midfielder Jan Breitensmoser fired the last Rams' attempt of the contest from 25 yards out. Liberty's Lee easily handled the shot.
The Flames held possession throughout the final 15 minutes. The best scoring opportunity for Liberty during the span came in the 86th minute. Tahuona beat a defender and lined a shot from the right side of the box. However, Hernandez was able to knock the ball and control it to keep the midfielder from a multiple goal evening.
The Flames outshot the Rams, 17-9, in the contest. Liberty also held an 11-1 advantage in corner kicks.
The Flames next travel to Williamsburg, Va., to face the Tribe of William & Mary in their first road contest of the season. Match time is scheduled for 7 p.m.