Oct 6, 2009

Successful week gives Lady Flames confidence

by hris McNair

This past week the Lady Flames defeated Big South rival, Longwood, 1-0 on Wednesday and tied Charleston Southern University 1-1 on Saturday at Osborne Stadium.

Liberty dominated most of the game, firing a total of 20 shots compared to 10 from Longwood, only one of which was taken in the first half of play.

The Lady Flames had total control of the first 45 minutes of the game despite the game being scoreless at halftime. In comparison to Longwood’s one shot attempt in the first half, Liberty had nine. Aimee Luurtsema got it started for the Lady Flames with a bicycle kick at 10:57 that was saved by Longwood keeper Marcia Biddle. Not even five minutes later, Silvia Betancourt also took a shot on goal, only to have it blocked by Biddle. Despite not finding the back of the net, the Lady Flames seemed to be on the offensive while Longwood was struggling to produce momentum offensively.

The only goal of the game came from Liberty senior Heather Bowling. It was a goal particular significance for Bowling, though, as it was her first career goal. It was a corner kick assisted by Rachel Wisehart, which came in the 76th minute. The play also marked Wisehart’s first-ever assist. Although this was the only goal of the game, Liberty Head Coach Jess Celi credits the goal to the collective effort on the field put out by her team.

“We had to play for 90 minutes to get that one goal to preserve a shutout, so it was a great effort by everyone,” Celi said.

Longwood actually defeated four Big South teams going into Wednesday’s game, so the Lady Flames win will hopefully serve as a stepping stone as the Lady Flames go into a tough conference schedule. However, Bowling believes that the 1-0 final score does not reflect their true competitiveness.

“It was a hard fought game. I think that 1-0 did not reflect the way that we played in the game; I thought we played a lot better than that. I think it was good for us and it was good to show the conference that we’re here to play this year,” Bowling said.

Longwood drops to 7-4 on the season, while the Lady Flames extended their winning streak to two games following a 4-0 shutout of Francis Marion.

On Saturday afternoon the Lady Flames were back in action, hosting an evenly matched Charleston Southern team. This was a Big South opener that ended in 1-1 tie after two overtime periods.

Charleston Southern gave Liberty much more of a fight than Longwood did, as the Lady Buccaneers were able to attempt 16 shots on goal compared to Liberty’s 18.

The Lady Flames wasted no time and got off to a good start early, scoring the first goal of the match in the fifth minute. The goal came from Maria Owen, who was able to put it past Charleston Southern’s Jenna Lalich for the 1-0 lead.

The Lady Buccaneers came storming back, as Lindsay Trexler put one in the corner of the net in the 11th minute. After that goal, both teams alternated control of the game. Despite strong play from Liberty’s star players, they were unable to take the lead going into halftime.

The second half was similar to the first. The Lady Flames barely outshot the Buccaneers by only 6 and, as a result of several misses by both teams, the game went into a 10-minute overtime period. Many shots were taken, all of which did not find their mark. The game went into a second overtime, and the missed shots persisted. Following 110 minutes of play, the game ended in a 1-1 tie.

Liberty Head Coach Jess Celi was satisfied with the tie and believes Charleston Southern is a very good team.

“I think they’re absolutely one of the top teams in the conference. After seeing them I think they are great. They’re very well-coached, so to get a tie is a good result,” Celi said.

The 1-1 tie brings Liberty to a record of 3-6-1, and the Buccaneers a record of 7-3-1.

The Lady Flames continue Big South play on Monday, as they host Coastal Carolina before heading to Winthrop on Oct. 9.

Contact Chris McNair at cjmcnair@liberty.edu.

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