Midfielder Chris Phillips moves the ball forward during Liberty's exhibition against William & Mary, this past Friday. Phillips and the Flames open their 2010 season, Wednesday at home.
The Liberty Flames men's soccer team will open its 2010 campaign, Wednesday at Osborne Stadium against the Bluefield Ramblin' Rams (1-0) at 5 p.m. It will be the 36th year of Liberty soccer and the 10th season under the guidance of Head Coach Jeff Alder.
How to Follow the Flames Live stats for Wednesday's contest will be available on LibertyFlames.com by clicking the live stats link on the men's soccer schedule/results page. The game will mark Liberty's first time using the popular GameTracker live stats interface.
A Look at Liberty The Liberty Flames, coached by Jeff Alder (87-69-15, entering his 10th season), enter 2010 off their third consecutive year with a double-digit win total in 2009. The Flames reached the Big South title contest, posting a 12-5-3 record last season. The Flames, picked fourth by the league's coaches in the Big South's Preseason Poll, return 17 players from last year's squad. Among those returning for the Flames are the 2009 Big South-leading goal scorer and South Atlantic Region team member Darren Amoo, All-Big South forward Timothy Bullock, All-Big South midfielder Chris Phillips and midfielders Phillip Aseweh, who finished the year fourth in the Big South in scoring, Alex Verville and Juan F. Niño. In addition, defenders Greg White, Chris Osborne and Thad Taylor return after helping the Flames post 12 shutouts last season, tying the school record. The two remaining goalkeepers from last season's team, Panashe Nhekairo and Paul Gilbert, who redshirted in 2009, will vie for the starting goalkeeper spot with the departure of A.J. Madero, who is now a graduate assistant with the team. The 2009 Flames ranked fifth nationally in scoring offense by averaging 2.15 goals per game and seventh in the country in team goals-against average with a 0.53 GAA. Season Openers The Flames will attempt to win their fifth consecutive season opener, Wednesday. Last season, Liberty began the 2009 campaign with a 10-1 victory over Concord on Sept. 1 at Osborne Stadium. Phillip Aseweh had a grand debut in a Liberty uniform, tallying seven points with two goals and three assists. The point total was the most by a Flame since Darryl Roberts collected nine points, with three goals and three assists, in a 10-0 win over Averett at Liberty Soccer Field on Oct. 7, 2002. Returning forwards Darren Amoo and Timothy Bullock also had two goals each, while returning midfielder Juan F. Niño scored a goal in the victory. The Flames' goal total against Concord was the second most in a single contest in program history. The Flames defeated Southern Virginia, 11-0, on Sept. 6, 2003 to set the school record. Liberty is 23-12 all-time in season openers and 6-3 during Head Coach Jeff Alder's tenure.
A Look at Bluefield Bluefield, located in Bluefield, Va., began its 2010 season, Saturday, with a 7-1 victory over Warren Wilson. In the contest, the Rams started quickly, scoring less than a minute into the contest on 25-yard shot by freshman midfielder Jake Summers. Sophomore Joey Waltz and freshman Tyler Koerwitz also netted first-half markers to give Bluefield a 3-0 lead at halftime, which it never relinquished. Summers scored three times on the afternoon for the Rams in the contest. Junior Jeff Fields and Justin Fields each played a half in net in for Bluefield. Last season, the Rams posted a 5-13-1 record. Returning midfielder Nago Mbengue led Bluefield with 25 points on a team-leading 11 goals and three assists. Mbengue earned All-Appalachian Athletic first team honors in 2009. Peter Dryer is in his first-year as head coach at Bluefield. Dryer served as an assistant coach at Geneva for three years, helping to lead the Beaver Falls, Pa., institution to a 39-16 regular-season mark and three NCCAA Regional Tournament appearances. All-time Against Bluefield Wednesday's meeting will be the second contest between the Flames and Ramblin' Rams on the soccer field, with the two squads meeting previously on Aug. 29, 2008 at the former Liberty Soccer Field. Liberty defeated Bluefield, 3-1, in the lone matchup, which served as the 2008 season opener for the Flames. Darren Amoo scored all three Liberty goals in the contest, his Flames debut. Juan F. Niño, also playing his first college game, assisted on Amoo's first goal. Goalkeeper Paul Gilbert, then a sophomore, made four saves for Liberty. A Sequel? The 2009 Liberty squad finished the year ranked fifth nationally in scoring offense by averaging 2.15 goals per game. This season, the Flames' offense could once again be high-octane with the return of the top six scorers from that team. Darren Amoo, who led the Big South with 14 goals and was second in the conference with 33 points, Phillip Aseweh (20 points), Timothy Bullock (12 points), Juan F. Niño (10 points), Chris Phillips (nine points) and Alex Verville (eight points) all return for the Flames in 2010. Brother Act This season, junior Juan F. Niño will be joined by his brother, Juan J. Niño, on the Flames' roster. The last pair of siblings to play on the Liberty soccer team was Andrew and Jeremiah Kappler, who played for the Flames from 2004-07. Last season, the Katy, Texas brothers were contributors to their respective teams. Older brother Juan F. led the Flames and finished third in the Big South Conference with eight assists, while younger brother Juan J. was helping to lead Cinco Ranch High School to a regional championship and the state finals. A Look Ahead The Flames will begin a stretch of seven games away from Osborne Stadium, Saturday night. Liberty will travel up Route 460 for a match with the Longwood Lancers. The two squads have met in non-conference play each of the past three seasons, with all three contests going to overtime to decide the outcome.
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