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Liberty Men's Soccer to Host Howard for 2016 Season Opener

August 25, 2016  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Kevin Mendoza and the Flames will host Howard, Friday.

Kevin Mendoza and the Flames will host Howard, Friday.

The Liberty Flames men's soccer team will open its 2016 campaign by hosting the Howard Bison, Friday evening at Osborne Stadium.

The contest will be the first match of 2016 for both teams. Howard and Liberty will be meeting for the ninth straight year.

The match will begin the 42nd year of Liberty men's soccer and the 16th season that the Flames have been under the guidance of Liberty alumnus head coach Jeff Alder (144-111-23, 15 seasons).

How to Follow the Flames
A free live video stream courtesy of the Liberty Flames Sports Network and the Big South Network will be available by clicking the appropriate link on the schedule/results panel under men's soccer on LibertyFlames.com.

Live stats powered by StatBroadcast will also be available for the contest by clicking the appropriate link on the men's soccer schedule/results panel of LibertyFlames.com.

A Look at Liberty
Liberty will have new look in 2016, as 13 new faces join its ranks for the upcoming season.
Many of the newcomers will be part of a retooled offensive attack. The Flames lost five of their six starters at the forward and midfield positions from 2015. Forward Kevin Mendoza is the lone returning starter up front for the Flames. The sophomore comes off a freshman season which saw him selected to the Big South All-Conference team. He scored two goals and two assists in 15 games, last season.

He is expected to be joined on the attack by senior Kyle Carr, who saw a majority of his time last season at defender. Carr had a goal and two assists in 2015. Junior Kurt Meyers also returns to the midfield. Last season, Meyers saw action in all 17 Liberty games, assisting on three goals and scoring one.

On defense, the Flames welcome back three players who saw significant minutes, while returning goalkeeper Jeremy Lee from last season. Nico Bellarde and Geovanny Murillo provided solid play during their freshman campaigns, while Alex Dominguez provided a stabilizing presence in his return to the Liberty roster in 2015 after a year's absence.

Lee, a senior, has started 29 matches in net during his Flames career, including all 17 last season. He enters the year with a 1.53 goals-against average.

Season Openers
Liberty is 27-14 all-time in season openers and 10-5 during head coach Jeff Alder's tenure. The Flames have won their last three season openers.

For the third consecutive season, the Flames will open the season at Osborne Stadium. Liberty defeated Bluefield to open the 2014 and 2015 seasons by identical scores of 2-1.

A Look at Howard
Howard and Liberty will be meeting for the ninth straight season, Friday. The Flames hold an 8-6 all-time advantage over the Bison. However, Liberty has won all eight matches between the two teams since the series resumed in 2008, including a 2-1 victory at Greene Stadium in Washington, D.C., last season.

Head coach Phillip Gyau is in his third season heading his alma mater. He will be leading the Bison into their first season as members of the Sun Belt Conference. In the six-team conference which includes Appalachian State, former Big South member Coastal Carolina, Georgia Southern, Georgia State and Hartwick, Howard has been picked to finish sixth in conference play.

Liberty Picked Fifth in Big South Preseason Poll
The Flames were tabbed to finish fifth in the 2016 Big South Preseason Poll. 2015 NCAA Tournament participant Radford was selected first.

The Big South Men's Soccer Championship is scheduled for Tuesday-Sunday, Nov. 6, 9 and 13 at the site of the higher seeded team.


2016 Big South Men's Soccer Preseason Poll

1. Radford (7) – 72

2. High Point – 64

3. Winthrop (1) – 56

4. Campbell – 55

5. Liberty – 43

6. Longwood (1) – 42

7. UNC Asheville – 34

8. Gardner-Webb - 28

10. Presbyterian – 11


Flames News and Notes

  • Liberty is scheduled to play nine home matches in 2016. Besides Howard, the Flames will host non-conference opponents American, Buffalo, Dayton and William & Mary, while squaring off with Campbell, High Point, Presbyterian and UNC Asheville for Big South contests.
     
  • The Flames posted a 3-5-1 record at home last season. It was the first time in Osborne Stadium history that Liberty did not have a winning record at home.
     
  • Six of Liberty's newcomers have been named All-Americans at either the high school or college level. New Flames Corban Crosley, Shalom Dutey and Rigoberto Rojas each were named All-Americans during their high school career, while transfers Tresor Mbuyu, Edgardo Reyes and Pepe Segarra earned the honor during their time in the college ranks.
     
  • Sachem Wilson, who finished his Liberty career last season, became the first Flame in program history to play in a Europa League game this past June. The striker is currently playing for ND Gorcia of the Slovenia first division.

 

A Look Ahead
The Flames will travel to Lexington, Va., to face the VMI Keydets in a non-conference match, Tuesday. Kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m.

Head Coach Jeff Alder's team will then return home on Sept. 2 for a match against Commonwealth opponent William & Mary. The contest is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Osborne Stadium and is the second game of a soccer doubleheader with the Liberty women's team. The Lady Flames will host Appalachian State at 4 p.m.