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Field Hockey Blanks St. Joe's in Season Opener
The Lady Flames field hockey team opened the 2013 season with a convincing 4-0 defeat of the visiting Saint Joseph's Hawks on Friday afternoon at Liberty Field Hockey Field. The win helped Liberty avenge a loss versus the Hawks to open the 2012 season. Hannah Jones matched her goal total from the entire 2012 season by scoring a pair of goals for the Lady Flames, while Natalie Barr matched the program's single-game record for assists with two.
The visitors started quickly, outshooting Liberty 3-1 in the contest's opening 10 minutes.
Liberty countered with a push into the Hawks' circle with just under 25 minutes remaining in the first half. Natalie Barr forced a penalty on Saint Joseph's, resulting in a penalty stroke opportunity for Liberty. Jones took the stroke and lifted the ball past Hawks' goalkeeper Rachel Barnett into the back of the cage to give the Lady Flames the 1-0 advantage.
The score would remain 1-0 until the 6:19 mark of the first stanza. Natalie Barr delivered the first of her two assists, feeding a crossing pass to Ashlee Krulock in front of the Hawks' cage. Krulock flicked the pass into the top of the goal, increasing Liberty's lead to 2-0.
The Lady Flames defense finished the first half strong after allowing the three early shots. Saint Joseph's did not record a shot during the final 26:35 of the opening frame.
Just as they did to open the game, the Hawks started the second half strong, registering four early shots. Liberty goalkeeper Ann Jefferis, making her first start in goal since the 2011 season, notched two saves during that span to keep the Lady Flames lead intact.
With 25:28 showing on the second half clock, Liberty forced its third penalty corner of the contest. Jones inserted the ball into the top of the circle to a waiting Bethany Barr. After several passes, the ball ended up on the stick of Natalie Barr. The Lady Flames leading scorer from a year ago ripped the ball by Barnett into the cage, giving Liberty a 3-0 cushion.
Less than 10 minutes later, Liberty capped the day's scoring with its fourth goal of the game. Off of another penalty corner attempt, Natalie Barr struck the ball toward the goal. The ball sailed past the goalie to a waiting Jones who was able to deflect the ball into the cage for her second tally of the contest.
Jefferis and the rest of the Lady Flames defense preserved the shutout, surrendering just two shots over the final 31:16 of the second half.
For the contest, Liberty outshot Saint Joseph's 16-9, including an 11-6 advantage in the second frame. Both teams forced four penalty corners each.
Jefferis posted four saves in goal for the Lady Flames en route to the fourth shutout in her Liberty career. Barnett finished with nine saves in the cage for the Hawks.
The Lady Flames will trek across the country next weekend to square off against a pair of NorPac West Division foes. On Sept. 6, Liberty will face UC Davis in a neutral site game at Cal at 10 p.m. EST. The Lady Flames will wrap up the weekend versus Cal on Sept. 8 at 5 p.m. EST. The contests will serve as the beginning of a six-game road stretch for Liberty.
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