In only its second year of existence as a NCAA Division I team, the Lady Flames field hockey team went to their first NorPac Conference title game Nov. 3, losing to the Stanford Cardinals 3-0. This was also the Lady Flames inaugural season as a part of the NorPac Conference.
The tournament took place in Farmville, Va., and because of their 14-5 (7-1) regular season record, Liberty was able to draw the No. 1 seed as a part of the Eastern Division.
Their first opponent was the No. 4 seeded Pacific University Tigers from the Western Division. The game was close as both teams knotted 1-1 going into overtime.
A minute into the extra period, the NorPac East Division Offensive Player of the Year, freshman midfielder Natalie Barr, delivered the game-winning goal that sent the Flames to face the Davidson College Wildcats in the semi-finals. The Lady Flames outshot the Tigers 24-2 and had eight penalty corners to Pacific’s zero.
In a two-week timespan, the Lady Flames had faced Davidson twice — defeating them both games. In their third match-up, the result was no different. The Lady Flames were able to complete its sweep against the Wildcats 3-1.
Liberty freshman midfielder Abbey Basom scored in the 23rd minute off a penalty stroke. Three minutes later, Davidson answered with a goal from freshman forward Lucy Pidock, who gathered a rebound and shot it into the back of the cage.
After halftime, the Lady Flames scored two unanswered goals by Barr and freshman forward Ashlee Krulock. The 3-1 victory set up their encounter with the Western Division No. 1 seed, Stanford.
After its game against Davidson, the Lady Flames became the second team in nine years to make an appearance in the NorPac Conference title game from the Eastern Division.
The first to make this accomplishment was Radford University in 2003.
While the Lady Flames were unable to score in the title game, Liberty was able to recognize Barr and fellow team freshman defender Erin Dombach, who both made the 2012 NorPac All-Tournament team. The MVP of the tournament was Stanford’s senior defender Becky Dru. She finished the tourney with two goals and an assist.
With this loss, the Lady Flames saw its eight-game winning streak and season come to an end. The season may be over, but the Flames showed progress from its first year as a NCAA sport — an improvement in wins from 10 to 16.
Stanford advanced to the NCAA tournament play-in game today, Nov. 6.