LEXINGTON, Va. - Despite keeping the deficit to 1-0 at the half and converting two penalty kicks in the second half, the VMI men's soccer team fell to the visiting Liberty Flames by a 5-2 score Tuesday afternoon at Patchin Field.
The Keydets held the Flames to nine shot attempts in the opening stanza, but Liberty's Jovanni Chavez scored his first of three goals in the game at the 9:20 mark as he took an assist from Geovanny Murrillo and Martin Agredo and shot the ball into the lower right corner for an early advantage.
Both teams struggled to maintain possession for the remainder of the half as Liberty went into the break with a slim 1-0 lead.
The Flames repeatedly attacked the net in the second half and got behind the Keydet defenders on breakaway attempts to increase the lead to 4-0 with just over 10 minutes remaining.
At the 79:36 mark, Liberty defenders put a hand on the ball deep in Flame territory to allow a VMI penalty kick, which junior midfielder Sam Moffatt converted to trim the disadvantage to 4-1.
Liberty managed another goal with under four minutes left as Chavez took a ball that snuck past Keydet goalie Robert Allen and tapped it into an open net for the Flames' final tally.
With under a minute in the game, the Keydets upped the tempo and forced a foul on a corner kick opportunity, creating another penalty kick scenario. Senior defender Chris Spates was given the honors and converted the kick for the game's final score.
Although Allen picked up six saves during a complete game, he was given the loss while Liberty's James Knoebel earned the win with four saves.
The Keydets hit the road for the first time in 2016 with a match Saturday at Howard. Kickoff is scheduled for a 5 p.m. start in Washington, D.C.