Flames soccer suffers first loss
The Liberty Flames men’s soccer team (2-1) lost its first game of the 2016 season 2-0 against the Tribe of William & Mary Friday night at home in Osborne Stadium.
This first loss for the Flames, and second win for the Tribe, evens both teams’ records to 2-1.
The Flames and the Tribe played a balanced game in the first half with two shots from the Flames and one shot for the Tribe. Liberty posted more shots on goal, and William & Mary maintained more possession of the ball.
The direction of the game changed drastically for the Flames a little over one minute into the second half when starting sophomore forward Kevin Mendoza received his second yellow card, disqualifying him for the rest of the game. Liberty went on to play the rest of the second half down one player.
Effort was not enough for the Flames as the Tribe scored twice within a five-minute stretch in the second half. Tribe freshman midfielder Reeves Trott headed a ball into the right corner of the net off of an assist from Ryder Bell in the 61st minute. Antonio Bustamante scored an unassisted goal off of a free kick for the Tribe in the 64th minute.
The deficit was too much for Liberty to overcome. William & Mary survived a few late shots by the Flames and held on,
In a video interview before the match on Libertyflames.com, Liberty Head Coach Jeff Alder spoke of the challenge that William & Mary would bring the team.
“This is a great atmosphere to test our resolve, to test our character,” Alder said.
The Flames’ character was tested, and it showed in how they responded to the challenge of playing the entire second half down a man.
When asked about the character his team displayed, Alder praised the effort and resolve of his players.
“I thought we fought like crazy,” Alder said.
Alder said he felt his team was in control of the game until the disqualification against them in the second half.
“I thought we were on top of the game at that point,” Alder said.
Alder said that though some calls did not go their way, he was still proud of the way his team played and faced adversity.
“We never blame the officials,” Alder said. “They see it one way, we might see it another way, but we have to keep playing. Even down a man, we showed great character. Every day we preach character, but you never know how your team will respond until they are put in a situation like we faced tonight. They say that character is not built but revealed, and I thought they handled it very well.”
The Flames’ next game will be Tuesday, Sept. 6 at 4 p.m. when they travel to the University of South Carolina Upstate.
Cockes is a sports reporter.