LYNCHBURG, Va. – Kevin Mendoza and Tresor Mbuyu each scored two goals and three newcomers each netted their first goal in a Liberty uniform, as the Flames romped past the Southern Virginia Knights, 7-0, in their 2017 season opener at Osborne Stadium. The contest was played before 2,457 fans, the largest recorded crowd in program history.
Mendoza collected Liberty’s first goal of the season and later, scored on a penalty kick early in the second half. Meanwhile, Mbuyu, who led the Big South Conference in goals last season, also tallied markers in each half.
Transfer Bobby Bynum and freshman Evan Godfrey and Matthew Zaczyck each notched a goal in the second half of play.
For the fifth consecutive year, the Flames (1-0) opened their season with a victory. Southern Virginia drops to 0-1.
Liberty controlled play throughout the evening, outshooting Southern Virginia, 30-1. The Flames put 18 shots on goal.
Mendoza put the Flames on top, 1-0, during the contest’s 10th minute. The junior midfielder took a cross from Mbuyu on the right side of the 18-yard box and buried a shot into the far left side of the net to give Liberty an early advantage.
Mbuyu added to the home team’s edge during the 20th minute. Rigo Rojas tipped a loose ball in front of the Knights’ goalkeeper into space on the left side of the box for the 2016 Big South Attacking Player of the Year. Mbuyu pounced on the ball, ripping a shot into the near corner of the goal for a 2-0 lead.
The Flames continued on the attack for the rest of the half, but were unable to extend their lead. Bynum had three quality chances and Mbuyu saw two more shots stopped by Southern Virginia keeper Colin Flynn in the latter part of the period.
Liberty’s offensive pressure resulted in a five-goal outburst in the second half, allowing head coach Jeff Alder to make a large number of substitutions.
Once again, Rojas and Mbuyu were part of a score during the opening minutes of the half. Midfielder Carter Burris moved the ball down the right sideline and pushed a pass into the box onto the foot of Rojas. The forward tipped the ball to the left side to an oncoming Mbuyu, who blasted a shot into the open net at 47:46 for a 3-0 advantage.
After midfielder Pepe Segarra was pulled down in the box by a Knights’ defender, Mendoza cashed in the ensuing penalty kick during the 60th minute for Liberty’s fourth marker of the evening.
Later in the half, Bynum scored on a rebound of his own shot, while Godrey netted a goal on a corner kick by Zaczyck for a 6-0 lead. Zaczyck capped the scoring on the evening with a goal during the 80th minute. The freshman knocked in a pass into the center of the box by fellow freshman Trent Tarnstrom for the final score of 7-0.
All three Liberty goalkeepers saw action in the contest. James Knoebel played the entire first half, while Brogan Engbers and Parker Andres took over in the Flames’ net in the second half. None of the Liberty keepers needed to make a save on the evening. Flynn made 11 saves in the contest.
Liberty will next host the VMI Keydets, Tuesday evening at Osborne Stadium. The two teams will meet for the 15th consecutive season. Match time is scheduled for 7 p.m.