Khalil Karl and Jovanni Chavez each scored his first goal of his career, wearing a Flames uniform, as Liberty opened its 2014 season with a 2-1 win over the Bluefield Rams, Friday evening at Osborne Stadium.
Karl, a transfer from Saint Louis, netted Liberty's first goal of 2014 on a free kick less than three minutes into second half. Later in the half, Chavez tallied the first goal of his collegiate career during the 58th minute.
The season opener for both teams, Liberty moves to 1-0 and Bluefield drops to 0-1.
The host Flames carried play in the first half, outshooting the Rams, 14-2, in the opening 45 minutes. However, Liberty was unable to find its marker of the year in the half.
Bluefield goalkeeper Jefferson Watson spoiled two scoring opportunities for Karl with outstanding saves. In the 24th minute, Karl took a pass into the 18-yard box and lined a hard scoring attempt towards the net, which Watson knocked down and smothered to keep the match scoreless. Later in the half, Karl blistered another attempt from the top left corner of the box, trying to bend it into the near corner, only to see Watson jump up and take the ball out of harm's way.
Liberty's pressing attack provided the Flames with a scoring opportunity just minutes into the second half. After breaking away from the Rams' defenders and moving one-on-one with the goalkeeper Watson, Bay Kurtz was pulled down by a Bluefield defender during the 58th minute, Liberty was awarded a free kick near the top of the 18-yard box. Karl bent the kick into the top of the net for a 1-0 lead.
In the 58th minute, Chavez combined with fellow freshman Troy Reeves and Alan Arellano to give the Flames a 2-0 advantage. Arellano found Kurtz with a pass at the top of the right corner of the box. Reeves ran onto the ball and pushed a pass into the center of the penalty area, which Chavez pounced on and beat Watson to the left side.
Bluefield cut the Liberty edge to 2-1 in the 63rd minute. Ram Erik Albarran gained possession of a clearing attempt near midfield and from the right side of the box pushed a pass into space for Benny Slator, who scored.
A shot attempt by the Flames' Kurtz in the final minutes of the contest hit the crossbar.
Liberty outshot Bluefield, 28-6, in the contest.
Flames' goalkeeper Scott Sutarik made three saves over the 90 minutes, while Watson had eight saves during the same span for the Rams.
Liberty next travels to Lexington, Va., Tuesday afternoon for a match against the VMI Keydets. The Flames' meeting with their former Big South opponent at Patchin Field is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. The contest will be the first of four consecutive matches away from Osborne Stadium for the Liberty.