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Liberty Claims 2nd NorPac East Title With 6-0 Win at Appalachian State
A stifling defensive effort and a balanced offensive attack helped propel the Liberty Lady Flames field hockey team to a 6-0 blanking of the Appalachian State Mountaineers on Sunday afternoon at Kidd Brewer Stadium. The victory clinches Liberty's second consecutive NorPac East Division title and the No. 1 seed for the upcoming conference tournament.
A couple of different records fell on Sunday for the Lady Flames. Liberty set a new program record with its sixth shutout of the season, breaking last year's mark of five. Natalie Barr and Bethany Barr each tallied an assist against the Mountaineers, tying them atop the single-season program record list with 10 apiece.
The Lady Flames run their winning streak to eight games, tying the program record which was set last season. Liberty also extends its winning streak against NorPac East foes to 14 consecutive games. Liberty improves to 13-4 overall and remains unblemished in NorPac East play at 7-0. Appalachian State drops to 2-15 overall and 1-6 in conference contests.
Liberty pushed the tempo early, forcing three penalty corners in the first 3:17 of the contest. Sarah Gipe put the Lady Flames on the scoreboard in the fifth minute, scoring her first marker of the game from the left side of the cage. Natalie Barr delivered the assist on the play as Liberty took the early 1-0 advantage.
With 23:05 showing on the first-half game clock, Bethany Barr drove into the Mountaineers' circle and around multiple defenders. The freshman's dribbling display took her to the right post, where she ripped it on an angle into the far side of the cage, giving Liberty the 2-0 lead.
The Lady Flames extended their lead to 3-0 with just over nine minutes remaining in the half. Helen Doolittle knocked a pass in from the top of the circle on a Liberty short corner attempt. The pass sailed toward Sarah Gipe right in front of the goal. Gipe blasted the ball out of the air and past Appalachian State goalkeeper Sarah Anderson for her second score of the contest and fourth of the season.
With the Liberty offense busy peppering shots at Anderson, the Lady Flames' defense was a wall, allowing the Mountaineers just two runs into the circle in the opening half. Appalachian State wasn't able to register a shot or a penalty corner on either attempt inside the circle, as Liberty went into the halftime break with a commanding 3-0 edge.
The Lady Flames started the second half equally as strong as the first, scoring with less than three minutes elapsed on the game clock. Erin Dombach found herself open in the top left portion of the circle. The Lancaster, Pa., native drilled a shot along the turf and into the right corner of the cage for her fourth goal of the season.
Liberty tallied its fifth goal of the game in the 56th minute of play. Serena Barr played a great ball from the top of the circle toward the left side to Hannah Goldsborough. The sophomore stopped the pass and flicked it into the top of the cage for her first goal of the year.
Abby Batdorf pushed the Lady Flames' lead to six goals with less than 12 minutes remaining in the contest. The junior ripped her first goal of the season into the cage from the top of the circle off of an assist from Bethany Barr, sealing Liberty's 6-0 victory.
The Lady Flames dominated the statistics line, recording 29 shots and nine penalty corners to just one shot and one penalty corner for Appalachian State.
Thanks to another strong effort by the Liberty defensive unit of Hannah Jones, Olivia Carroll, Helen Doolittle and Serena Barr, goalkeeper Ann Jefferis did not face a shot on goal during the contest. Anderson tallied nine saves in the cage for the Mountaineers in 64:51 of action. Cristinia Ceppi played the remainder of the minutes in the goal, but was not forced to make a save.
Liberty returns home for its final regular-season game on Saturday against Radford. The NorPac contest against the Highlanders is slated to begin at 1 p.m. The game will serve as senior day for the Lady Flames' Jefferis, Jordan Richardson and Micailah Sloman.
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