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The Liberty Lady Flames soccer team advanced to the semifinal round of the Big South Conference Championship with a 1-0 home win over the Presbyterian College Blue Hose Sunday, Nov. 3.
Sophomore forward Crystal Elmers’ goal late in the first half gave the Lady Flames all the offense they needed for the afternoon. Elmers tapped the ball in from near the left post after midfielder Brittany Aanderud weaved in a diagonal through ball, setting Elmers up for an easy finish.
“Most of the credit needs to go to (Aanderud),” Elmers said. “She had a beautiful cross, and I just got a foot on it.”
The goal was Elmers sixth on the season, and she now leads the Flames in scoring off of only 19 shots.
Just prior to Elmers’ goal, Presbyterian had its best chance to score denied by Flames keeper Holly Van Noord, who posted her 13th shutout of the season after recording two saves on the day.
Facing a one-on-one matchup against Blue Hose forward Sarah Simpson, Van Noord advanced past the goal box and then made a diving deflection as Simpson attempted to put the ball into the right side of the net.
“I was excited I got the opportunity to actually stop (the breakaway),” Van Noord said. “I think it is just something I have been working on this past week really hard, and it’s just awesome to see what you put into practice actually translate to the game. I just got set for the shot and thankfully I reacted correctly.”
Presbyterian College had one final chance to tie the game in the second half, earning a free kick opportunity after forward Tori Lopez collided with a Lady Flames player.
With 14 seconds remaining, the Blue Hose lobbed the ball into Liberty’s penalty box only to have it cleared away as time expired.
Liberty had previously defeated Presbyterian College 2-1 in an Oct. 5 matchup. The game went into a second overtime before the Lady Flames were able to pull off the away win with a penalty kick goal by Aanderud.
This time around, the Lady Flames outshot Presbyterian 20-3, and the Lady Flames held the Blue Hose to zero shot attempts in the second half.
“One of our defensive keys is how we were going to defend all over the field with all 11 players, and they did an excellent job with that,” Lady Flames Head Coach Jessica Hain said.
The quarterfinal matchup was the first home playoff game for the Liberty’s women’s soccer team.
“(The crowd is) extremely important. It gave us a lot of momentum, a lot of confidence,” Hain said.
The Lady Flames will travel to Coastal Carolina, who is hosting the Big South Championship tournament. Liberty will play sixth-seeded High Point in a semifinal match Friday, Nov. 8. at 7 p.m.
If the Lady Flames win, they will play in the championship game, Sunday, Nov. 10 at 2 p.m. against the winner of the matchup between first-seeded Radford and fourth-seeded Winthrop.