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Liberty Advances to NorPac Semifinals With 3-1 Win Over Cal

November 7, 2013
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Liberty celebrates after a goal by Sarah Gipe (#14).

A balanced offensive attack and a stifling press by the defense helped lead the No.1E seed Liberty Lady Flames field hockey team to a 3-1 victory over No. 4W Cal in the quarterfinals of the NorPac Championship at Liberty Field Hockey Field. With the win, Liberty advances to the semifinals tomorrow and will face No. 2W UC Davis at 1:30 p.m.

Jordan Richardson, Sarah Gipe and Bethany Barr each tallied goals for the Lady Flames, who collected their program-record 10th consecutive win. The victory also helps Liberty avenge an earlier 1-0 loss to Cal on Sept. 8 in Berkeley. The Lady Flames improve to 15-4 overall, while the Golden Bears fall to 6-12 on the year. Cal will play a consolation game tomorrow at 11 a.m. versus the Radford Highlanders.

From the get-go, Liberty's defense applied heavy pressure to the Golden Bears. The Lady Flames held Cal to just two shots and one penalty corner in the first half.

With the Liberty defensive unit busy holding down the fort on its side of the field, the Lady Flames' offense broke through in the 15th minute of play. Jordan Richardson received a long pass on the left side of the field and dribbled into the top-left portion of the circle. Sensing daylight, the senior wound up and ripped a shot past Cal goalkeeper Courtney Hendrickson and into the far corner of the cage. Richardson's fifth goal of the season put the home team on top, 1-0.

Liberty goalkeeper Ann Jefferis kept the lead intact, knocking away the Golden Bears' first shot of the game with 11:53 showing on the game clock. Less than a minute later, Lara Kruggel had her shot attempt blocked by the Lady Flames' defense.

Sarah Gipe extended Liberty's lead to 2-0 with 7:02 left until halftime. Bethany Barr sent a pass to Gipe in front of the cage near the right post. The sophomore dove toward the ball and was able to get a touch on the ball and squeeze it in between Hendrickson and the post for her fifth marker of the year.

The score remained 2-0 heading into the halftime break. In the opening stanza, Liberty held the advantage in shots, 7-2, and penalty corners, 3-1.

Cal scored a quick goal coming out of the break. Jordan O'Reilly knocked a crossing pass from Shannon Elmitt into the goal just 3:38 into the second frame, cutting Liberty's lead in half at 2-1.

After back-to-back short corner attempts for the Golden Bears proved unsuccessful, Liberty's offense forced eight consecutive penalty corners, spanning a time frame of nine and a half minutes. Despite the numerous opportunities Cal was able to keep the Lady Flames from scoring. Hendrickson made a trio of saves during the penalty corner barrage.

With time running out, Cal pulled Hendrickson in favor of another field player with 2:55 remaining in the game. Liberty's defense rose to the challenge and did not surrender a shot or penalty corner the remainder of the game.

Bethany Barr put the icing on the cake for the Lady Flames, dribbling up the right side and banging a shot into the open cage with one second left in the contest. Barr's fourth tally of the season gave Liberty the final 3-1 advantage.

The Lady Flames controlled the game statistically, out-shooting Cal 18-4 and forcing a dozen penalty corners to the visitors' four. In goal, Jefferis tallied a pair of saves for Liberty, while Hendrickson notched five stops for Cal.