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It seems that the weather at Liberty University favored the women’s soccer game between Liberty and the University of Pittsburg. Rain poured from Tuesday to Thursday of last week, but let up on Friday just in time for the women’s soccer game, before raining again on Saturday.
According to libertyflames.com, 473 fans enjoyed the 84-degree weather at Osborne stadium. Pittsburg University’s Riliegh McHugh scored the only goal in Friday’s match as the Panthers claimed a 1-0 victory over Liberty’s Lady Flames.
“I thought Pittsburg had great pressure,” Liberty women’s soccer team head coach Jessica Hain said. “They had a good game plan, and they have some key players that are able to move side-to-side.”
The goal was scored in the 14th minute. Pittsburg’s McHugh dribbled the ball down the left wing and shot it from outside the 18-yard box, beating the goalkeeper. There was a brief moment of confusion because the officials did not blow the whistle right away, but the shot was pronounced legal when referee Susan Walton finally raised both of her arms to signal the goal.
“The first goal was a cross, and it happened to go into the goal,” Hain said.
The Lady Flames and the Panthers played a close game. Pittsburg outshot Liberty 11-9 and produced three corner kicks compared to Liberty’s one. Lady Flames goalie Karen Blocker also produced three saves in goal, while Pittsburg’s Nicole D’agostino produced two saves.
“There was a lot of pressure,” Liberty defender Alex Mack said. “Our defense stayed pretty composed, and we were able to keep the ball out and counter-attack a lot, so it was a really good game.”
The first half of the game began with the Panthers pressuring the Lady Flames as Pittsburg’s Ashley Cuba took the first shot in the ninth minute. Four minutes later, Pittsburg’s McHugh took a long-range shot, making the score 1-0.
In the 23rd minute, McHugh found herself in a favorable position as she caught up with a pass sent behind Liberty’s defenders, but the ball was muscled out of her control by Liberty’s Mack.
The Lady Flames almost evened the score in the 28th minute when Crystal Elmers took a shot in front of the Panther’s goal, but the shot was deflected off a defender. Not a minute later, Elmers found herself rushing for the ball behind the Panthers defense, but it was intercepted by Pittsburg’s D’agostino before a shot could be made.
“I think that in the first half, we played a little bit timid,” Hain said. “I think in the second half, it was totally different, and I think we had a huge sense of urgency to get to goal.”
In the second period, Crystal Elmers took a shot 16-yards from the goal, but the shot sailed over the crossbar. The Panthers started to push back immediately as Pittsburg’s Dana Dellefemine dribbled up the right side of the field and shot at goal, but the ball was caught by Liberty’s Blocker.
The Lady Flames produced two more saves when Pittsburg’s McHugh tested the goalkeeper at the 66th minute, and Charlebois found her shot in the hands of Blocker at the 72nd minute. The Lady Flames pressured the Panthers for the rest of the game, but they were unable to convert plays into a goal.
Friday night’s loss concludes the three-win streak for the Lady Flames, but Liberty’s Alex Mack is keeping her head up.
“I thought it went really well,” Mack said. “My team did a great job of possessing the ball, we just needed to go towards goal, but it was great competition.”
The Lady Flames will be playing their next four games at home and will be playing George Washington University Sept. 14 at 7 p.m.