Freshman Trent Tarnstrom scored the first goal of his career and assisted on another, as the Liberty Flames blanked the VMI Keydets, 3-0, in their season opener, Tuesday evening at Osborne Stadium.
Tarnstrom assisted on the first goal of the game, forward Tresor Mbuyu's first marker of the year, and netted the contest's second goal midway through the 2nd half. Newcomer, Shaun Stocker, capped the scoring on the night with a strike from 25 yards out later in the final period for the Flames.
Liberty moves to 1-0 on the year. VMI drops to 0-1-1. Tuesday night's contest was the 14th straight meeting between the two schools on the soccer pitch.
The Flames used a solid defensive effort to record their second clean sheet of 2017. VMI had nine shots in the contest, only two in the second half. However, the Keydets did not have a shot on goal, as Liberty goalkeeper James Knoebel did not have to come up with a save. Liberty fired off 19 shots on the evening, with 10 on goal.
The first 20 minutes of the game's opening half saw wide open play between the two squads. The best scoring attempt for either side came during the 13th minute. Mbuyu took a pass from the middle of the field from midfielder Pepe Segarra and blew past a defender for an open shot from the top left corner of the 18-yard box. However, VMI goalkeeper, Jon Harrington, made one of his seven saves in the contest, a diving block, before smothering the rebound off his hands.
Liberty took a 1-0 lead during the 33rd minute. Mbuyu settled a loose ball at midfield and streaked up the left sideline past the VMI defense. The forward tipped the ball into the center of the field for Tarnstrom, who passed it around a defender back to Mbuyu for a wide open shot. The junior buried a low liner into the far lower corner of the net for a Flames' advantage.
In the waning moments of the half, a Liberty foul allowed VMI to organize for a free kick on the right side of the field about 20 yards out. VMI's David Wright's kick was high over the goal, as time expired in the half.
The Flames applied pressure on the offensive end during the first 15 minutes of the second half, but were turned away on several attempts by strong saves by Harrington. However, the Liberty pressure paid off during the 72nd minute. The ball was lofted by the Liberty midfield forward towards the VMI net. Harrington came out to grab the ball, but mishandled it. Finding himself behind the keeper, Tarnstrom deposited the first goal of his collegiate career into the open net for a 2-0 edge.
Four minutes later, Stocker struck for his first goal in a Liberty uniform. After Mbuyu was fouled, Stocker took the ensuing free kick and lined a blast under the crossbar and into the net from 25 yards out for what proved to be the final score of 3-0.
Friday, the Flames will travel to Spartanburg, S.C., for its first road contest of the season. Liberty will square off with the USC Upstate Spartans at County University Stadium. Match time is scheduled for 4 p.m.
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