Nov 10, 2009

Lady Flames upset in first round

by Jeff Scott

The No. 1 seeded Lady Flames soccer team suffered a crushing defeat and were upset in the first round of the Big South Women’s Championship by No. 8 seeded Winthrop. After a scoreless regulation and two intense overtimes, the Lady Eagles won the game on penalty kicks 5-4. In the history of the women’s tournament, no number one seed has ever won the tournament.

Before the game, Big South Coach of the Year Jessica Hain knew coming into the game there might be pitfalls, and they needed to be ready for anything.

“God does a good job of keeping us humble” she said. “It allows us to know that on any given day any team is capable of winning a game so we know that each opponent that we face is serious, a good opponent, and someone we have to play to the best of our abilities against in order to win.”

Hain also knew that her team had to be realistic when facing hungry teams.

“We had to come in with realistic eyes knowing that each game is going to be difficult, each game is going to be a challenge for us, we want to stay healthy, and we would love to be the number one seed that goes on and wins the tournament.”

Winthrop jumped out the gate early, registering the first two shots of the game. A shot by Allie Vandewater was blocked by Liberty’s defense and her second attempt was wide right at the 3:47 mark. Liberty had a corner kick opportunity in the seventh minute, but Elia Lake’s shot ran wide right.

Vandewater’s third attempt in the ninth minute was stopped by Liberty goalkeeper Ashley Nyholt. Aimee Luurtsema headed an attempt near the goal but Winthrop goalie Kelsy Weavil grabbed it up. Silvia Betancourt also headed a shot off a pass from Maria Owen but it sailed over the crossbar.

Winthrop’s best chance at scoring came at the 27th minute when Lia Gordon had a wide open shot at the net but the ball bounced off the crossbar and out of play. Madison Short had two shots in the span of a minute with a free kick that was stopped, and another that flew over the goal. Defense prevailed for the rest of the half, with no team gaining an advantage.

Short notched the first shot attempt of the second half, but it was blocked by the Winthrop defense. Liberty had another chance to score in the 58th minute when Short floated a pass to Luurtsema in the box, but her ensuing header sailed over the goal.

The Lady Eagles took two consecutive shots in the 59th minute. Ariel Kunde’s shot was saved by Nyholt and Kylie Long’s attempt missed. After that neither team could garner much offense, and the game carried into overtime.

The Lady Eagles replaced starting goalkeeper Kelsy Weavil with backup Sarah Schippers.

Neither Liberty nor Winthrop could score any goals in the overtime periods and the game would have to be decided in a shootout. Betancourt, Heather Bentley, Rachel Wisehart, and Karen Blocker made their penalty kicks for LU. Schippers then made the game winning save, giving the Lady Eagles the victory 5-4. Vandewater had five shots for Winthrop, and Weavil had four saves. Winthrop outshot Liberty 19-15.

The loss brings an end to a successful season for Liberty, as the Lady Flames ended the season with a 9-7-3 record and a conference record of 6-1-2 while securing the regular season title for the third time in program history.

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