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Lady Flames Edged by #14 Delaware, 1-0, in NCAA Tournament
Despite holding the advantage in shots, the Liberty Lady Flames field hockey team fell, 1-0, to No. 14 Delaware in a NCAA Tournament play-in game on Wednesday afternoon at Rullo Stadium.
With the loss, Liberty sees its 12-game winning streak snapped and finishes its season with a 17-5 record, marking the most wins in program history. The Lady Flames captured their second consecutive NorPac East Division title this season and upset No. 10 Stanford in the NorPac Tournament title game, earning a berth in the NCAA Tournament in just their third season as a program. Delaware (17-4) advances to face No. 3 seed North Carolina on Saturday in Chapel Hill, N.C.
Delaware kept control of the match throughout the first five minutes of play, but it didn't take long for the momentum to turn in favor of the Lady Flames. Liberty notched the first shot of the contest in the sixth minute of play. Serena Barr dumped a pass into the center of the circle to Natalie Barr. The sophomore ripped a reverse shot on cage, but Blue Hens' goalkeeper Sarah Scher kicked the ball away for the save.
Liberty's defense turned up the pressure following Barr's shot. The Lady Flames frustrated Delaware's backline with a tight press which led to three more shots in the first frame for Natalie Barr.
With 16:50 showing on the game clock, Natalie Barr received a pass from the right baseline from Jordan Richardson. Barr went one-on-one with Scher, but sailed a shot wide of the cage.
The Blue Hens forced the match's first penalty corner for either team with six minutes remaining in the opening stanza. Michaela Patzner lined a shot on cage from the top of the circle, only to have the attempt knocked away by Liberty's goalkeeper Ann Jefferis.
Delaware missed a golden scoring opportunity as the game approached halftime. The Blue Hens had a two-on-one breakaway against Jefferis. Meghan Winesett received a pass near the right post, but her shot bounced wide of the open cage.
Liberty forced its only penalty corner of the contest just before the half. Serena Barr ripped a shot toward the goal, but it was blocked by the Delaware defense, sending the game to the halftime break deadlocked at zero.
The Lady Flames opened the second half with three shots in the first 7:30. Ashlee Krulock and Natalie Barr had shots turned away by Scher, before Barr sent a shot high.
The Blue Hens nearly took the lead midway through the final frame off of their second penalty corner of the contest. Winesett knocked a shot toward the right corner of the cage, but Natalie Barr swatted the ball out of the air for the defensive save, keeping Delaware off the scoreboard.
Liberty's defense withstood three consecutive penalty corners beginning at the 16:35 mark. The Blue Hens notched just two shot attempts during the corner opportunities, with none of the shots ending up on goal.
Delaware scored what ended up being the game-winning goal with 5:40 remaining in the contest. Off of a short corner attempt, Kasey Prettyman knocked a shot in from the right side of the circle off of a pass from Heather Hartman.
Sarah Gipe notched two shots in the final minutes of play for the Lady Flames, but the visitors were unable to tally the equalizer as the Blue Hens claimed the victory.
For the contest, Liberty outshot Delaware, 11-8, while the Blue Hens held the advantage in penalty corners, 6-1. In goal, Jefferis ended the game with two saves for the Lady Flames. Scher recorded six stops as the Blue Hens set a new single-season program record for victories with 17.