Lady Flames blanked by No. 1 Redhawks in ACHA DI semis
March 15, 2014 | Newark, Del.
Liberty University's road to its first ACHA Division I women's hockey National Championship was blocked by top-ranked Miami (Ohio) University, which snuffed the Lady Flames' attack in a 1-0 semifinal setback, Saturday afternoon at Fred Rust Arena in Newark, Del.
When senior defenseman and captain Courtney Fischer's second wrist shot from the top of the right circle glanced off the post with a minute left in regulation, Liberty's last best chance at netting the equalizing goal was extinguished by the Redhawks, who are making their first Final Four appearance.
"We had the heat on and we had them scrambling, but just couldn't get it done," Lady Flames Head Coach Paul Bloomfield said. "They're pretty discouraged right now, because we had our chances. We were coming back but just ran out of time."
After avenging its only shutout loss of the season with a 3-0 triumph over Adrian College in Friday's third round of pool play to advance to the Final Four for the second year in a row, the Lady Flames were sent to Sunday's consolation game with their second shutout defeat.
They will face third-seeded Rhode Island, a 2-1 loser to No. 2 Massachusetts in Saturday's second semifinal, Sunday at 9 a.m. in a battle for third place.
Miami dominated the early action and scored the game's only goal on its second power play with 3:11 left in the first period.
"They outplayed us the first period," Bloomfield said, noting it took a while for Liberty to warm up, playing its fourth game in three days. "We had a slow start and they are a really quick team in transition. Unfortunately, we weren't used to playing on an (Olympic-sized) ice patch."
Redhawks sophomore defenseman Morgan McGrath scored the golden goal off an assist from freshman center Katie Augustine, an ACHA DI first-team selection who scored the game-winning goal for Team USA against Japan in the bronze medal game of the World University Games in Italy in December.
"There was a scrum in front of the net and the puck bounced out and the girl had a chance to shoot it through the crowd," Bloomfield said. "The puck bounced out and we just didn't cover. We weren't in the right spot at the right time. I don't know if (junior goalie Chantal Lischynski) saw it or not. There was a lot of traffic in front of the net."
Lischynski and Miami senior goalie Dana Lovin, who posted her fifth shutout of the season after entering the tournament with a 1.39 goals-against average and a 0.94 save percentage, each made 19 saves as the Redhawks outshot the Lady Flames, 20-19.
Liberty turned the momentum in its favor in the second period and created plenty of pressure in the third, but could not capitalize on three power-play chances — two back-to-back late in the second period and one midway through the third.
"We started coming back, played a really strong second period, and had them scrambling in the third," Bloomfield said. "I felt like the game could have gone either way."
He said this year's tournament features tremendous parity and the Lady Flames, seeded seventh, were as strong as any of the top six.