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Liberty Edges Radford, 2-1, to Remain Unbeaten in NorPac Play
A pair of late defensive saves helped the Liberty Lady Flames field hockey squad hold off the home-standing Radford Highlanders, 2-1, on Saturday afternoon at RU Field Hockey Field. Natalie Barr and Erin Dombach provided the offense as the Lady Flames ran their winning streak to three games.
The win improves Liberty's record to 8-4 overall and a perfect 3-0 in the NorPac. The Lady Flames have now won four out of their last five games overall and 10 consecutive contests against NorPac East opponents. Radford falls to 4-10 overall and 2-2 in conference play.
Radford notched the game's first score with 10:25 elapsed in the first half. Mariana Parker dribbled up the right side and into the circle. The sophomore ripped the ball across the cage and into the left corner of the goal, giving the Highlanders the 1-0 lead.
Dombach tallied the equalizer for the Lady Flames in the 14th minute. The Lady Flames sent a pass toward the cage from the left side of the field. The ball squirted past Radford goalkeeper Sydney Encarnacion to the waiting stick of Dombach. The sophomore tapped it in from close range for her second score of the season, tying the contest at one apiece.
Liberty nearly took the lead with 16:15 showing on the game clock. Off of a penalty corner, Abbey Basom lined a direct shot toward the cage, but Radford's Alayna Versage recorded a defensive save, knocking the ball wide of the goal.
The remainder of the first half saw the Lady Flames outshoot the Highlanders 3-2, but neither team was able to break the one-all tie heading into the halftime break.
Radford held off the Lady Flames for the first 27:05 of the second half, before Natalie Barr provided the go-ahead goal with 7:55 remaining in regulation. Bethany Barr inserted the short corner attempt to Natalie Barr at the top of the circle. The sophomore wound up and smoked a direct shot past Encarnacion and off the backboard, giving the Lady Flames the 2-1 advantage.
Playing in their final home game of the season, the Highlanders did not go down without a fight. On Radford's second consecutive penalty corner, Parker knocked a shot on goal, which deflected off goalkeeper Ann Jefferis' pads and off the left post of the cage. Versage collected the rebound, but her shot attempt was turned away by Liberty defender Hannah Jones.
The Highlanders' final bid to tie the game came with under a minute remaining. On a penalty corner attempt, Natalie Barr saved a would-be goal by Kellen Keys. The Lurgan, Northern Ireland native recorded a stick save to preserve the 2-1 win for the Lady Flames.
For the contest, Liberty held the advantage in shots, 11-7, while Radford recorded six penalty corners to the Lady Flames' five.
In goal, Jefferis needed to make just one save en route to her eighth win of the year. Encarnacion finished the contest with four saves for the Highlanders.
The Lady Flames return to Liberty Field Hockey Field tomorrow for a 2 p.m. contest against Appalachian State.
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