Undefeated in NorPac
Liberty University’s field hockey team (14-4, 8-0) won its ninth straight game as the regular season concluded with a 3-0 home win over Radford (5-14, 3-5) Saturday, Nov. 2.
The Lady Flames struggled out of the gate, not launching a single shot on goal in the first half, but things turned around in the second as they scored on three of their six shots on goal.
The first goal of the game came just a few minutes into the second half, when Helen Doolittle rocketed a shot from a penalty corner past Highlanders goalkeeper Sidney Encarnacion.
Sisters Bethany and Natalie Barr got in on the action later in the half with Natalie Barr notching her 17th goal of the year, while Bethany Barr secured her third. Abbey Basom, Bethany Barr, Ashlee Krulock and Micailah Sloman each recorded assists on the afternoon.
“Coming out of halftime, we were angry in how we played (in the first half), and that Radford was outplaying us when we know we should have been (outplaying them),” Natalie Barr said. “We came out (in the second half) with much more intensity.”
Goalkeeper Ann Jefferis came away with her fourth consecutive shutout on her senior day behind a revamped defense.
“About four games ago, we took a hard look at our defense, and we made a few adjustments,” Murphy said. “And I think that discussion has really paid off. That group has a definite deeper sense of conviction to not let the ball into our defensive third, and as a result, we’ve had those four shutouts.”
During their nine-game winning streak, the Lady Flames have outscored opponents 46-7 and have posted shutouts in the last four games.
Natalie Barr, who leads the team in scoring, has been a force during the streak, scoring 13 goals and distributing six assists. The team’s last loss came more than a month ago to then-fourth-ranked University of Virginia Sept. 29.
The Lady Flames finished with an undefeated record in the NorPac East Division, winning the regular-season title for the second straight year. They will now focus on the NorPac conference tournament, which will take place at Liberty this year. The Lady Flames will host the University of California at Berkeley Thursday, Nov. 7 at 1:30 p.m. in a rematch of a game the Lady Flames lost 1-0 early in the year.
“There is extra motivation for our Cal matchup,” Murphy said. “When we traveled out West to play them, we took that trip so that we would get more comfortable playing those West Coast teams before the (NorPac) tournament. It’s worked out well that we get to face them again, and hopefully it will be a different score.”
Stanford knocked off the Lady Flames in the final of last year’s tournament, winning 3-0 and securing a spot in an NCAA tournament play-in game. The Cardinal will again be one of the favorites, winning the NorPac West Division with a 4-1 division record.
“(Last season) we might have peaked too early, and I think we were tired when it came around to the championship,” Natalie Barr said. “But I don’t think that’s the case at all this year. We’re peaking at the right stage. We were slow to start the season, but we’re definitely peaking and peaking at the time you want to peak.”