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Blocker Climbs Record Books in 3-2 Defeat
Looking to return to its winning ways after a loss to Coastal Carolina, Thursday, the Liberty women's soccer team squared off with Charleston Southern in Big South play, Saturday afternoon.
After the home team posted a goal in the first three minutes, the Lady Flames found themselves playing catch up for most of the contest. In the end, the Lady Buccaneers held off Liberty with a trio of goals for a 3-2 decision.
With their second straight loss, the Lady Flames fall to 8-5 overall and 2-2 in the Big South. Charleston Southern improves to 4-6-1 on the year and 2-2 in conference play.
Despite the defeat, Liberty goalkeeper Karen Blocker further cemented her name in school's annals. The Bowie, Md., native finished the contest with seven saves, surpassing Paula Barringer (296) for No. 2 on Liberty's career saves list. Blocker now has 299 saves as a Lady Flame.
Charleston Southern leading scorer Toni Lashley led the Lady Buccaneers with a pair of goals, followed by Chelsea Phillips, who chipped in a marker for the home team. Sophomore defender Maddie Booner and freshman forward Jaime Bouffard each tallied markers for Liberty. Freshman midfielder Rebekah Page added an assist on the Bouffard goal.
Liberty tried to strike early, taking two shots in the opening minute. The first attempt by sophomore forward Helena Pereira was blocked by a Lady Buccaneer defender, but freshman Brittany Aanderud followed up seconds later. The midfielder fired a shot at the Charleston Southern goal, which was then corralled by goalkeeper Caitlin Cody.
The Lady Buccaneers had an opportunity of their own in the third minute and took advantage. After a through ball from Allison Lewis was sent to Lashley, the forward found herself with an advantageous look at an open Liberty net. Before Blocker could get back to challenge the attempt, Lashley slipped a shot into the left side, putting the home team ahead, 1-0.
The Lady Flames looked for a quick counter, posting five shots in an eight-minute span. Aanderud nearly evened things up in a fourth minute, firing an attempt that ricocheted off the cross bar. Liberty recorded four more shots including two more by Aanderud during the stretch, but each went wide of the net, allowing Charleston Southern to maintain its edge.
Aanderud remained relentless, sending another attempt at the Charleston Southern net in the 19th minute. Once again, Cody was there to make the stop. Liberty's next three shots over the ensuing 10 minutes were all taken by Pereira. After her first attempt was blocked, Pereira blasted two more at the Lady Buccaneers net, with each resulting in a Cody save.
Liberty found the equalizer in the 36th minute. Boone recorded the first goal of her collegiate career, airmailing the ball from 18 yards out. The shot sailed past Cody and into the net to knot the contest, 1-1.
However, the Lady Buccaneers were undeterred by Boone's marker, garnering a second goal 30 ticks before the halftime horn sounded. After Blocker stopped an attempt by Hali Singleton, Phillips immediately followed up on the rebound, tapping it into the net to put the host team ahead, 2-1, at halftime.
Despite Charleston Southern's pair of goals, Liberty outshot the Lady Buccaneers in the opening period, 13-10. Corner kicks were even at three apiece following the first 45 minutes.
After three saves in the first period, Blocker climbed another rung in the Liberty record books with two quick stops in the opening three minutes of the second. Blocker thwarted an attempt by Cox in the 48th minute for her fifth save of the contest. The stop marked the redshirt senior's 297th career save, placing her second all-time in school history.
Charleston Southern posted its third goal on the day in the 64th minute. The ball bounced around in the box, but midfielder Gina Cox was able to feed it to Lashley, who placed the ball past a diving Blocker to put the Lady Buccaneers up, 3-1.
Beginning in the 71st minute, the Lady Flames took four shots on goal in a six-minute span. Rebekah Page, Kelly Henion, Jaime Bouffard and Rebecca Smith each had a look at the Lady Buccaneer net, but Cody was there to make all four stops.
After the flurry, Liberty scored its second goal in the 81st minute. Following a pass from Page, Bouffard chipped a shot from 18 yards out over the head of a charging Cody and into the net. Bouffard's team-leading fourth goal of the season cut the deficit to 3-2.
Henion took one last shot on goal in the 86th minute, but Cody stuffed the try, allowing Charleston Southern to hang on for the victory.
Liberty outshot the Lady Buccaneers in the contest, 25-15, and held a 6-3 advantage in corner kicks. Like Blocker, Cody played the full 90 minutes in the net, collecting 10 saves for Charleston Southern.
The Lady Flames return to action on Thursday, playing host to Gardner-Webb in Big South action. Game time at the Campus East Fields is slated for 7 p.m.