Liberty defender Douglas Nyame moves between two Winthrop defenders, while teammate John Letsen looks on. Nyame, Letsen and the Flames are ranked No. 5 in this week's South Atlantic Region poll.
After opening up its conference schedule with two wins last week, the Liberty men's soccer team moved up three spots in this week's National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) South Atlantic Region poll, to its highest ranking ever at No. 5. The Flames enter the week with a 6-1-1 overall record and a 2-0 mark in Big South Conference play. Future Liberty opponent Virginia, ranked No. 4 in the national poll, continues to head the regional rankings.
"We had two very difficult conference matches this week and our team displayed great poise and discipline under duress during those games," stated Liberty head coach Jeff Alder. "We are humbled and thankful that God continues to bless us as we serve him through the game of soccer."
The Flames, in the midst of a four-game unbeaten streak, began Big South Conference play last week by shutting out Radford and Winthrop at Liberty Soccer Field. During the streak, Alder's club is 3-0-1 and has posted shutouts in its last three contests. Last Wednesday, the Flames' Juan Guzman (So., MF, Charlotte, N.C.) netted his first goal of the season early in the first half of play, and forwards Toby Lewis (Sr., Morrison, Colo.) and Adrian Bumbut (Sr., Zalau, Romania) added second-half markers in a 3-0 win over Radford. In the contest, the Liberty once again played strong defense in recording its fourth shutout of the year. The Flames followed up their triumph in their conference opener with a 1-0 victory over defending conference champion and preseason favorite Winthrop Saturday afternoon. In the match between the two regionally ranked teams, Liberty leading scorer Bumbut netted the contest's lone goal less than six minutes in on a free kick from just outside the penalty area. Alder's squad then held the high-scoring Eagle offense scoreless the rest of the way for its sixth victory of the season. Defense continues to key the Flames success. Liberty has allowed less than a goal per game over its first eight matches of the season, recording a 0.50 goals per game average, and five shutouts. The Flames lead the Big South in both categories. Currently, Liberty goalkeeper Paul Gilbert (Fr., Rockvale, Tenn.) tops the Big South with a 0.49 goals-against-average. Bumbut, Liberty's leading scorer, enters the week with five goals and three assists for 13 points. The senior is tied for second in the conference in both points and goals scored. Joining the forward on both Big South lists is midfielder Joshua Boateng (Jr., Accra, Ghana). Boateng has netted three goals and assisted on another for seven points, tying for seventh in points and goals. Liberty steps out of conference this week. Tuesday night, the Flames travel to Chapel Hill, N.C., to face North Carolina, ranked fifth in the South Region rankings. Game time is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Liberty hosts Marshall at Liberty Soccer Field. Game time is scheduled for 1 p.m. South Atlantic Regional Rankings 9/30 1. Virginia 6-1-2 2. Virginia Tech 6-1-2 3. Boston College 6-1-1 4. VCU 4-1-2 5. Liberty 6-1-1 6. Winthrop 5-2-1 7. (tie) George Mason 3-3-1 Towson 3-3-1 9. Drexel 3-2-2 10. Georgia State 3-3-1 Receiving votes: VMI 4-3-1
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