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Liberty Clinches No. 2 Seed with Smith's Clutch Goal
The Liberty women's soccer team clinched the No. 2 seed in the 2013 Big South Championship, executing another clutch performance to defeat Longwood, 1-0, at the Longwood Athletics Complex. For the second straight match, Rebecca Smith connected on the game-winning goal off an assist from Brittany Aanderud.
Much like Saturday's matchup versus Coastal Carolina, the duo collaborated with under 10 minutes left in regulation. During the 82nd minute, Aanderud fired a shot from 25-yards out that ricocheted off the crossbar. Smith collected the ball off the rebound and sent it into the back of the net from short range, setting up the Lady Flames the victory.
Smith's goal was her third straight in as many games and fourth on the year. Aanderud's helper now gives her the team lead with five helpers.
With the win, Liberty (13-5-1, 8-2-1 Big South) leapfrogs the Lancers (9-8-2, 8-3 Big South) for second place in the league standings. The Lady Flames 13 regular-season wins and eight conference victories are the most in program history. Liberty now leads the all-time series versus the Lancers, 7-4-3.
Holly Van Noord added another shutout to her mantle, extending her single-season record to 12 games.
Shots were at a premium in the opening period with each team taking three attempts. Kelsey Pardue accounted for all of the Lancers shots, two of which resulted in Van Noord saves.
Liberty's best look at a goal in the opening frame came in the 32nd minute. Alanna Dunkle flicked a crossing pass from the right side over to Aanderud inside the 18-yard box. Aanderud airmailed an attempt, but the shot sailed high over the Longwood net.
Following a Maddie Boone attempt that went wide of the goal, Madison Kauzlarich picked up a loose ball off a corner kick in the 44th minute. Unfortunately, Kauzlarich's effort soared over the net, giving way to the 0-0 stalemate at halftime.
The seesaw battle continued in the second period, with Liberty holding a 6-4 advantage in shots. In the 80th minute, Longwood's Katie Beebe headed the ball at the Liberty net, but Van Noord was able to deflect the shot for her third and final save of the contest. Just over two minutes later, Aanderud and Smith joined forces for late-game heroics, leading to the 1-0 final.
Liberty outshot Longwood, 9-7, while the Lancers held a 4-1 advantage in corner kicks. Van Noord finished the contest with three saves, while Shelby Hall played the entire 90 minutes in the net for Longwood.
Liberty returns home to host a quarterfinals matchup in the 2014 Big South Championship. Game time is slated for 2 p.m., with official tournament seedings and pairings announced later tonight.