Flames play to 1-1 draw at Osborne
The Liberty University men’s soccer team (3-2-1) went head-to-head with American University (3-1-3) Friday, Sept. 16 at Osborne Stadium, which resulted in Liberty’s first draw of the season with a score of 1-1.
Sophomore forward Tresor Mbuyu gave Liberty fans hope for a victory when he scored 30 minutes into the match.
Being down a goal, the American Eagles relentlessly attacked the goal every opportunity they had.
With 15 minutes left in regulation, Eagles senior forward Joe Iraola scored a free kick from 35 yards away, forcing extra time.
American was aggressive throughout the match, shooting over 25 percent more than the Flames.
The Flames defense, according to Head Coach Jeff Alder, did a good job containing American’s forceful offense.
“We knew they were going to put us under pressure,” Alder said.
“We knew we had to start fast. We thought we could make them pay if we got past their first line of pressure.”
The Eagles were ranked No. 19 in the country prior to the game, which according to Alder made the draw feel like a victory.
“Our guys competed tonight,” Alder said.
“We play to win games, but unfortunately some days it may end up like this against a good team.”
As extra time slowly wound down, both teams had ample opportunities to steal the victory, but neither could score in extra time.
“I’m proud of our guys,” Alder said. “I thought we created some good chances. We thought there was a game-winner out there, but we just couldn’t find it.”
Despite their lone goal, the Flames knew they did not make the most of the opportunities given to them during the game.
“We had a great goal, and we had awesome chances throughout the game,” sophomore defender Nico Bellarde said. “I couldn’t be more proud of the boys for fighting through.”
Alder said the last few practices have proven beneficial, giving the team time to rejuvenate in preparation for American.
“We fell short last game against Buffalo,” Alder said, “What we really tried to do this week in practice was get reenergized and refocused for this game.”
Freshman goalkeeper James Knoebel had a career game against the Eagles, reaching a season record of 10 saves, according to libertyflames.com.
Knoebel’s saves, five of which were in overtime, were a key part in Liberty’s success.
“He has made some good saves this season,” Alder said. “He has made a couple timely saves to either keep us in the game or keep the game going in our direction.”
The Liberty soccer team will travel to Raleigh, North Carolina to face off against N.C. State Sept. 20.
“Our energy level is very important,” Alder said. “We have proven in back-to-back games that we can play with anyone in the country.”
Smith is a sports reporter.