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Big South Quarterfinal Preview: No. 1 Seed Liberty vs. No. 8 Seed Radford
With its 1-0 win over Longwood, Tuesday afternoon, the Liberty women's soccer team earned the No. 1 seed in the 2014 Big South Championship. The Lady Flames (12-4-1, 8-1-1 Big South) will host No. 8 seed Radford (7-9-2, 4-5-1 Big South) in the quarterfinals, Sunday at 2 p.m. The contest will stream live on the Big South Network.
The opening round matchup features the two finalists of the 2013 Big South Championship, which resulted in a 5-0 Liberty victory and the program's fourth conference title (Nov. 10, 2013). This season the Lady Flames hosted Radford on Oct. 8 at Osborne Stadium, defeating the Highlanders, 2-1, thanks to a game-winning goal in the 76th minute by leading scorer Crystal Elmers.
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A free live video stream courtesy of the Liberty Flames Sports Network and the Big South Network will be available on the women's soccer schedule/results panel. Live stats powered by StatBroadcast will also be available.
Last Time Out for Liberty
Junior forward Crystal Elmers put a bow on an exciting regular season, Tuesday afternoon, as the Lady Flames defeated Longwood at Osborne Stadium, 1-0.
With the Senior Day victory, Liberty clinched the Big South regular-season championship for the third time in program history and the first since 2009. The Lady Flames concluded the regular season with a 12-4-1 overall record and an 8-1-1 mark in conference play. Liberty's eight conference victories tie the program record set by last year's championship squad.
With 37 seconds remaining in regulation, Elmers drove the length of the field and fired a 15-yard shot from the right side into the lower left corner. The game winner marked Elmers' sixth goal of the season, making her the team leader heading into postseason play.
Goalkeeper Holly Van Noord picked up her conference-leading eighth shutout of the season, extending her program career record to 22.
A Look at the Lady Flames
Brittany Aanderud leads the team in points (16) on four goals and eight assists. The junior's assist total is tied for first in the Big South with UNC Asheville's Amanda Dailor and Radford's Jordan Lundin.
Crystal Elmers paces the squad with six goals, followed by Alanna Dunkle, who has five. Madison Kauzlarich has four goals, while Jennifer Knoebel and Rebeccah Smith each have three. Knoebel is also second on the team and tied for fifth in the conference with five assists. Jaime Bouffard and Baylee Gillmore each have two goals and four assists on the year. Maddie Boone, Sami Santos and Jordan Kestel round out Liberty's scoring on the season with one goal apiece.
Goalkeeper Holly Van Noord leads the conference in shutouts with eight. She is also first in the Big South in save percentage (.859) and goals-against average (0.65).
As a team, Liberty leads the Big South in save percentage (.869), shutouts (9), fewest goals allowed (11) and goals-against average (0.63). The Lady Flames are also tied for second in assists (32) and are fourth in goals (32).
Head coach Jessica Hain is in her sixth season with the program. Hain is coming off the most memorable season of her coaching tenure at Liberty, guiding the program to its fourth Big South Championship and first since 2005.
Boone was named the Big South Defensive Player of the Week last week for games played, Oct. 13-19. The weekly conference honor marks Boone's second this season and the program's fifth overall.
Boone previously won the award on Aug. 25. Knoebel (Sept. 22) and Aanderud (Sept. 29) have each garnered Attacking Player of the Week honors this season, while junior defender Alex Mack was named Defensive Player of the Week on Oct. 6.
Aanderud and Van Noord Break Program Records
Junior midfielder Brittany Aanderud recorded two assists in Liberty's 8-0 over UNC Asheville on Oct. 1, setting a new program record with 21 helpers. The mark surpassed the previous record held by Nancy (Davis) White (1998-2001). Aanderud now has 23 career assists and eight on the season
On Oct. 11, goalkeeper Holly Van Noord earned her 21st career shutout in a 2-0 win over High Point. Van Noord surpassed the previous mark of 20 set by former teammate Karen Blocker (2008-12). The netminder heads into postseason play with 22 shutouts, accomplishing the feat in just two active seasons.
Radford at a Glance
Radford concluded the regular season with a 7-9-2 record overall and a 4-5-1 mark in conference play. The Highlanders a coming off a 1-0 loss versus Winthrop on Saturday.
The Highlanders' Kara Wade leads the team with seven goals and 16 points. Jordan Lundin is tied with Liberty's Brittany Aanderud for first in the Big South with eight assists. Goalkeeper Katie McCormick has a save percentage of .793 and is fifth in the conference in goals-against average (1.35).
Liberty's All-Time Marks in Big South Championship
The Lady Flames are 18-8-6 all-time in the Big South Championship, capturing titles in 2000, 2001, 2005 and 2013. Liberty is currently second in the conference in tournament wins and is tied for second all-time with High Point with four championships. Radford holds the all-time record with five titles.
Last season marked Liberty's sixth finals appearance, tying the Highlanders for the second most Big South finals appearances in conference history.
The Lady Flames' most common opponents in the tournament have been Charleston Southern (2-1-1), High Point (4-1) and UNC Asheville (2-0-2). The Lady Flames have also played Radford (3-1), Coastal Carolina (2-0), Winthrop (0-1-1), Gardner-Webb (0-0-1), Longwood (0-0-1) and former conference members UMBC (0-3), Elon (2-1), Howard (1-0), Towson (0-1) and Birmingham Southern (1-0).
Lady Flames and the Big South Championship
The Lady Flames captured their fourth Big South Championship by winning the 2013 Big South Women's Soccer Championship. Liberty's other titles came in 2000, 2001 and 2005.
With their appearance in 2013, the Lady Flames have played in six conference finals, posting a 4-1-1 record. Liberty made three straight trips to the Big South final from 1999 to 2001.
Liberty fell in its first appearance in the title game in 1999, 3-2, in overtime to Elon. The following year, the Lady Flames claimed their first championship with a 2-0 victory over Elon and then made it back-to-back titles with another 2-0 title-game win over the Phoenix in 2001.
Liberty returned to the title game in 2005 and added its third trophy since 2000, with a 3-0 victory over UNC Asheville.