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Lady Flames Triumph over Stanford to Win NorPac Title
Sarah Gipe's go-ahead goal four minutes into the game propelled the Liberty Lady Flames field hockey team to a 1-0 upset of fourth-ranked Stanford in the 2014 NorPac Championship title.
One goal was all that the Liberty defense needed to secure its second straight NorPac title on Saturday at Pacific Field Hockey Turf.
With the victory, the Lady Flames earn a second-straight berth into the NCAA Division I Field Hockey Championship. Liberty will find out its opponent tomorrow night when the NCAA announces the 2014 tournament field at 10 p.m. on NCAA.com.
Liberty has now won the NorPac title the last two years in just three seasons of competition in the conference. The win helped avenge the Lady Flames' 4-1 loss in the last meeting with the Cardinal on Aug. 31, in Stanford, Calif.
Despite Stanford entering the contest with a program best 18-1 record, the Lady Flames proved too much for the Cardinal. NorPac Tournament MVP Gipe stepped up in a big way this weekend for Liberty, notching three goals and recording one assist in two games.
The junior forward aided in ending Stanford's program long winning streak at 12 games. The Lady Flames improve to 13-7 overall and the Cardinal fall to 18-2.
Joining Gipe on the NorPac All-Tournament team were junior goalie Mallory Cuccio, sophomore defender Serena Barr and freshman midfielder Cassidy Bremner. Cuccio finished the tournament with two wins and four saves. Barr anchored the Liberty defense, holding opponents to one goal on 11 shots. Bremner helped facilitate the offense in the midfield, sending one shot on goal herself.
From the opening possession, Liberty controlled the ball for much of the opening half. The Lady Flames outshot the Cardinal 5-4 in the opening half, including the game-winning goal.
Natalie Barr dribbled into the right side of the circle, seizing the opportunity to send the ball across the middle. Gipe possessed the pass, redirecting the ball into the left side of the net. The Liberty defense held Stanford to one shot on goal during the opening frame and forced away two attacking penalty corners by the Cardinal.
Stanford never really had a good look at the net as the Lady Flames defense proved to be all over the field, denying consistent Stanford attack. Cuccio notched two second half saves to preserve her fourth shutout of the season, none bigger than today.
Stanford attempted to pick up the pace in the second half, sending in multiple substitutions at a time for fresh legs. However, Liberty countered the Cardinal's pace of play, surrendering only three shots in the second half en route to the victory.
Stanford in an attempt to tie the score, pulled goalie Dulcie Davies in favor of another player with 2:38 left to play. Once again the Lady Flames defense stood tall and did not surrender a single shot during the waning minutes, sealing the title game for Liberty.
The Lady Flames out possessed and outshot the Cardinal by a tally of 9-7, including a 7-3 advantage in shots on goal.
Liberty forced four attacking short corners compared to three for the opposing side.
2014 NorPac Championship All-Tournament Team
Sarah Gipe, Liberty (Tournament MVP)
Cassidy Bremner, Liberty
Serena Barr, Liberty
Mallory Cuccio, Liberty
Dana Wetmore, Appalachian State
Alicia Muinos, Pacific
Lara Kruggel, California
Briana Sooy, UC Davis
Martha Duterte, UC Davis
Sarah Helgeson, Stanford
Maddie Secco, Stanford
Shannon Herold, Stanford