Cameron Chastian netted the first two goals of his career and Toby Lewis added another as the Liberty Flames withstood a Keydets' rally to down VMI, 3-2, in a Big South Conference men's soccer game, Wednesday afternoon, at Liberty Soccer Field.
After trading shots early in the first half of play, Liberty began pressuring the VMI net midway through the period before breaking through in a quick flurry of back-to-back goals late in the half.
After Jonathan Burklo (Senior, D, Tampa, Fla.) broke into the open and split two Keydet defenders just outside the box, he would send a pass to teammate Adrian Bumbut (Jr., F, Zalau, Romonia) who touch passed onto a streaking Toby Lewis (So., F, Morrison, Colo.) off his left side who would score his fifth goal of the season into the goal's left-hand corner to get the Flames on the scoreboard at the 41:26 mark.
Liberty extended their lead to 2-0 less minute later. Cameron Chastian (Fr., F, Elkton, Md.), who had come in as a substitute earlier in the half, gathered a rebound of a shot by Justin Willoughy (So., F, Greenville, N.C.) and scored his first goal of the season at 42:17.
In the second half, Chastian once again found himself on the scoring end to put the Flames up, 3-0 at 77:41. Bumbut would find Kyle Cupid (So., MF, Edinburgh, Trinidad) with a pass which Cupid would place in the open for Chastian. The forward gathered and stepped around the VMI keeper and netted his second goal of the game and his first multiple goal game of his career.
The Keydets rallied with less than six minutes left in the match. Michael Lloyd picked up a loose ball on the left side of the box and sent a shot which found the far side of the net to cut the Flames' lead to 3-1. It was Lloyd's fifth of the season.
VMI then edged closer at 88:47 when Dylan Reed gathered in a loose ball in the midfield even with the goal and scored from 30 yards out. It was Reed's first of the season.
Liberty then took control, with the return of several key starters, in the final minute and half for the win.
On the afternoon, Liberty out shot VMI, 19-12, and held the edge on corner kicks, 5-1.
Kevin Mahan (Sr., Waterford, Mich.), who played the first 77 minutes in net for the Flames, was never tested on the afternoon, while Michael Masmar (Fr., Oakdale, Minn.) finished up the last 13 minutes without a save. The Keydet's John Sollock made seven saves in 75 minutes, before giving way to Thomas Upton who did not record a save.
"It was a great conference win. It wasn't our best soccer and we knew mentally and physically, there could be a little bit of a letdown after UVA because we expended so much energy," commented Liberty head coach Jeff Alder after the game. "For us to show the character and resolve to comeback (the next game) to get a win is great."
"VMI is very disciplined and competitive," continued Alder. "Our guys for 85 minutes did a great job, but our reserve players need to do a better job closing the game out in the last five minutes."
With the win, Liberty ups its conference record to 3-1-1 and its overall record to 5-6-2, while VMI drops to 1-4 in the Big South and 7-7-1.
Before the match, Liberty seniors Jonathan Burklo, Daniel Darnell (D, Concord, N.C.), and Roberto Marquez (MF, Port-of-Spain, Trinidad) were honored for their contributions to the Flames' soccer program as the trio played their last home game of their careers.
The Flames now continue Big South Conference play on Saturday as they travel to Asheville, N.C. to square off with the UNC Asheville Bulldogs. Match time at Greenwood Field is set for 2 p.m. VMI also continues with conference play as they visit Coastal Carolina on Saturday also. Game time in Conway, S.C. is scheduled for 6 p.m.