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Women's Soccer Headed to Big South Championship
Liberty Enters Tournament as No. 6 Seed
After finishing the conference season with a 4-5 record, the No. 6 seed Liberty women's soccer team is matched up against No. 3 seed Coastal Carolina in Game 3 of the 2010 Big South Championship. The Lady Flames are looking for their first conference tournament win in four years.
The last time Liberty won a Big South Championship matchup was on Nov. 3, 2006, when the Lady Flames defeated the Chanticleers in the semifinals, 3-0. Liberty advanced to the finals that year, but was edged by UNC Asheville on penalty kicks, 4-2.
How to Follow the Lady Flames
Live stats will be available on LibertyFlames.com, by clicking the appropriate link on the women's soccer schedule/results page. Live stats will be provided by the Radford media relations offices. A video stream will also be available on the Big South Network.
Series Against Coastal Carolina
Liberty owns a 7-5 record all-time over Coastal Carolina, including a 1-0 record in tournament play. During the regular season, the Lady Flames travelled to Conway, S.C., to take on the Chanticleers on Oct. 4. After a scoreless first half, Coastal Carolina midfielder Anna Tupy took advantage of a corner kick, scoring the Chanticleers' lone goal for a 1-0 decision over the Lady Flames.
Liberty's All-Time Marks in Big South Championship
The Lady Flames are 13-7-4 all-time in the Big South Championship, including titles in 2000, 2001 and 2005. Liberty is currently tied in tournament wins with Radford and is also tied with the Highlanders and High Point in Big South Championship titles with three.
Liberty's last Big South Championship game came on Nov. 5, 2009, when the Lady Flames were eliminated in the quarterfinals by Winthrop. After 110 minutes of scoreless play, the Eagles advanced on penalty kicks, 5-4. Liberty is 0-2 against the Eagles in tournament games, also falling to Winthrop, 3-2, in overtime during the 2007 Big South Championship.
The Lady Flames' most common opponents in the tournament have been Charleston Southern (2-1-1) and UNC Asheville (2-0-2). The Lady Flames have also played Radford (2-0), High Point (2-1), Coastal Carolina (1-0) 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 third Big South Championship by winning the 2005 Big South Women's Soccer Championship. By winning in the finals, Liberty also won its 11th tournament contest. Liberty's other titles came in 2000 and 2001. In 2006, the team won two games to extend its tournament win total to 13.
With their appearance in 2006, the Lady Flames have played in five conference finals, posting a 3-1-1 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.
Head Coach Jessica Hain
Jessica Hain is in her third season as the head coach of the Lady Flames. Coming into the tournament, Hain has a career record of 19-29-7. In 2009 she earned Big South Coach of the Year honors, becoming the first coach in Big South history to take a last place team to first place the following season.
Luurtsema leads the way
Junior Forward Aimee Luurtsema leads the Lady Flames with 13 goals and 31 points this season, ranking her 14th and 15th nationally in each category. The junior is also second in the conference in goals and points and tied for fourth in assists with five this season. Heading into this week's Big South Championship, Luurtsema is tied for second in the program's annals for the most goals in a single season and is third on Liberty's single-season points listing.
Luurtsema Racks Up Multiple Weekly Honors
Aimee Luurtsema's stellar performance in a 6-3 win over UNC Asheville last week did not go unnoticed, as the Liberty women's soccer forward garnered Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) and Big South Attacking Player of the Week Honors.
Luurtsema shook up the program record books in Liberty's game against UNC Asheville last Wednesday, finishing with four goals, one assist and nine points. In addition, she netted the game-winning marker for the Lady Flames, propelling them to a 6-3 decision over the Bulldogs. The junior's quartet of tallies tied Nancy Davis' facility record, which was originally set against Howard on Nov. 4, 1999. Luurtsema's goal and point total also tied program records for the most goals and points in a single contest.
Luurtsema joined Robin Ingalls (1988), Jenice Oliveras (1991) and Davis (1999) as the only Lady Flames ever to score four goals in a game. Ingalls is also the only other player in school history to post nine points in a contest. According to the most recent NCAA statistics, Luurtsema is just the second Division I women's soccer player to register nine points and the eighth to net four goals in a single game this season.
Missing in Action … Sort of
The Lady Flames will be without second-leading scorer Silvia Betancourt during the Big South Championship, as she was tabbed by the Costa Rican national team to compete in the CONCACAF Women's World Cup Qualifying tournament. On Monday, the U.S. Women's National Team defeated Costa Rica, 4-0, in Cancun, Mexico, to win group B. Betancourt received the start in the contest, taking a header shot at the U.S. net in the 16th minute.
Before receiving the invite from her home country, Betancourt tallied eight goals, two assists and 18 points with the Lady Flames this season. She is currently fifth on Liberty's all-time career points list with 44 and is tied for fifth in career goals with 19.
The conclusion of Liberty's women's soccer game against Presbyterian College could not have been scripted any better, Friday night, at Osborne Stadium. With both teams scoreless through 85 minutes of play, senior forward Maria Owen tapped in the game-winning goal on Liberty's Senior Night in the 86th minute, giving the Lady Flames a 1-0 victory over the Blue Hose.
Owen's late-game tally in her final game at Osborne Stadium marks the 17th of her career and moves her into fourth place on Liberty's all-time points list with 45, passing teammate Silvia Betancourt.
Madison Short finished the regular season as the Lady Flames' assist leader with seven. Short's assist total places her at second in the Big South behind High Point's Sara Rager, who finished with eight. The midfielder picked up her most recent helper in Liberty's 6-3 win over UNC Asheville on Wednesday. In the eighth minute, Short sent a pass to forward Aimee Luurtsema, allowing her to score her first of four goals in the contest.
Between the Posts
Goalkeeper Ashley Nyholt has started in the net for the Lady Flames all 19 contests this season. The senior netminder has collected 97 saves (.746) this season and has a goals-against average of 1.80. Nyholt's save total this season is the fifth highest on Liberty's all-time single season saves list. For her career, the Brampton, Ontario native has 192 saves, just eight shy of surpassing Natalie Meyer (2001-04) for third on Liberty's career saves list.
Liberty in the Standings
As a team, the Lady Flames lead the conference in assists with 29. Liberty is also third behind Charleston Southern and Radford in goals and points with 33 and 95, respectively.