Senior shutout

Men’s soccer wins last home game

The Liberty mens soccer team’s stout defense shut down Presbyterian to notch a 2-0 victory Oct. 29 on Senior Day at Osborne Stadium.

Liberty pushed its record to 7-7-2 overall and 4-2-1 in Big South conference play. The Blue Hose fell to 6-9-2 overall and 4-3 in the Big South.

Liberty seniors Martin Agedo, Alan Arellano, Kyle Carr, Oluwatomiwa Kosoka and Jeremy Lee were honored before the game for Senior Day.

“We talked to the boys at halftime because we were generating shots five to one,” Liberty men’s soccer Head Coach Jeff Alder said.

“So after halftime we just refocused, told them to keep moving the ball, keep trying to find some pockets and see if we can get something in.”

LOCKDOWN— Sophomore midfielder Nico Bellarde fought for possession. Photo credit: Amber Tiller

LOCKDOWN — Sophomore midfielder Nico Bellarde fought for possession. Photo credit: Amber Tiller

In the first half, the crowd roared as sophomore midfielder Jovanni Chavez sped pass the Blue Hose defense to the top of the 18-yard box, but his shot flew over the top right corner of the goal during the 26th minute.

At the 30-minute mark, senior forward Martin Agedo split through Presbyterian defenders then fired a shot from the side of the box that sailed high over the crossbar to leave the game scoreless going into the half.

“We knew it was important to stay compact and tight,” sophomore defender Nico Bellarde said. “Throughout the game they were quick on counters and attacked with large numbers, so we just focused on clearing the ball properly.”

Early in the second half, sophomore forward Tresor Mbuyu rushed past the Presbyterian backline from midfield to break free and dribbled forward leaving only the Blue Hose goalkeeper Connor Behrend to beat.

Mbuyu fired shot but Behrend managed to block it.

Junior midfielder Pepe Segarra gathered the rebound and netted his third goal of the season to put the Flames up 1-0.

Liberty nearly extended the lead in the 79th minute when freshman forward Rigoberto Rojas fielded a pass from midfield then shot, but it bounced off the left goalpost.

Agredo then found open space on left side of the 18-yard box then headed a ball that Behrend blocked high outside the box.

Again, Segarra was there to capitalize on the rebound. He collected the rebound then fired from 20 yards out to score his fourth goal of the season and put the Flames up 2-0.

“It was an amazing feeling,” Segarra said. “Scoring my third goal of the season and then my fourth, I felt really good — happy for me and happy for my team.”

Segarra’s goals proved to be enough as the Liberty defense stayed tight to capture the victory in the last regular season home game.

Defense managed to allow freshman goalkeeper James Knoebel to not have to make a single save in the game, recording his fourth blank sheet of the season.

“That backline was unbelievable,” Alder said. “From front to back, we were blocking balls, we were stopping shots, we were clearing balls out. Our team defense bent a little, but we didn’t break, and that was remarkable. Our team defense was off the charts.”

Liberty’s defense looks to be coming together just in time with the Big South Conference Tournament just a week away.

“It feels really good to have this type of confidence,” Bellarde said.

“To be able to close out one of the last games of the season with a clean sheet, now going into the playoffs — it gives us good confidence to take on each game with that same confidence.”

Before the playoffs start, the Flames make the trip to Farmville, Virginia Nov. 2 to take on Big South Conference foe the Longwood Lancers to conclude the 2016 regular season.

Collier is a sports reporter.

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