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Lady Flames Soccer NCAA Tournament Preview: No. 1 Seed North Carolina
The Liberty women's soccer team will make its fourth NCAA Tournament appearance in program history, Saturday afternoon, squaring off with No. 1 seed and defending champion North Carolina in the first round. Match time at Fetzer Field is slated for 2 p.m.
The contest marks the first meeting between the Lady Flames (16-5-1) and the Tar Heels (17-4), who have garnered 21 of 31 NCAA national championships.
How to Follow the Lady Flames
A live video stream will be available on GoHeelsTV and can be accessed by clicking the link on the women's soccer schedule/results panel. Live stats will also be available courtesy of the North Carolina media relations office.
A Look at Liberty
The Liberty women's soccer team captured its fourth Big South Championship in record-setting fashion, defeating No. 1 seed Radford, 5-0, this past Sunday at CCU Soccer Field.
Liberty's five-goal performance marked a tournament record for the most tallies in a Big South finals matchup. With their fifth straight victory, the Lady Flames improved to 16-5-1, surpassing the 2000 Big South championship-winning squad for the most single-season wins in program history.
Geena Swentik led the Lady Flames with two goals, followed by Brittany Aanderud, Rebecca Smith and Julia Delgatti, who each had one. Aanderud, Alanna Dunkle and Crystal Elmers also had two assists, apiece. Aanderud's helpers gave her a school-record 10 assists on the season. With her assist total on the year, Aanderud is 23rd in the country (No. 1 in Big South) in helpers according to the latest NCAA statistical rankings. She remains No. 3 on Liberty's all-time list with 15 career assists.
For her performance throughout the tournament (one goal, five assists), Aanderud was crowned Big South Tournament MVP, while Dunkle, Swentik and senior captain Casey Norris were also named to the all-tournament team.
Goalkeeper Holly Van Noord collected her 14th shutout, breaking Radford's Che' Brown's (2012, 13 shutouts) single-season conference record. The netminder is 15th in the country in save percentage (.871) and 20th in goals-against average (0.573), pacing the Big South in all three categories.
As a team, the Lady Flames are 10th in the country in save percentage (.873), 10th in shutout percentage (.638) and 15th in goals-against average. Liberty's 14 shutouts are also a program record.
Aanderud remains the team leader in total points with 22, posting six goals on the season to accompany her 10 assists. Elmers is second with 16 points on six goals and four assists.
North Carolina at a Glance
North Carolina has received one of the tournament's No. 1 seeds for the first time since 2010. The Tar Heels are one of four ACC teams to earn No. 1 seeds in this year's tournament. In 32 NCAA Tournaments, the Tar Heels received a Top 4 seed on 29 of 32 occasions.
Crystal Dunn leads the North Carolina offense with 31 points on 13 goals and five assists. Dunn enters the contest 26th in the country in goals per game. Kealia Ohai paces the team in assists with six to accompany her eight markers.
Goalkeepers Anna Sieloff and Bryane Hearberlin have split time in between the posts, this season. Sieloff has allowed six goals (0.53 GAA) in 1,025 minutes of action, while Hearberlin has also given up six goals (0.63 GAA) during an 855-minute span. Sieloff has made 18 saves (.750) compared 19 for Hearberlin (.760).
Defender and nearby Pittsboro, N.C., native Casey Norris has cemented her place in the Liberty record books, this season, appearing in more contests (83) throughout her collegiate career than any other Lady Flame in program history. Norris recently surpassed Liberty Athletics Hall of Famer Nancy Davis, who held the previous record with 78 total games. Pittsboro is located about 17 miles from Chapel Hill.
Five Earn All-Conference Honors
Last week, five Lady Flames received Big South All-Conference honors. Midfielder Brittany Aanderud and defender Casey Norris were named to the conference's first team, while junior defender Maddie Boone and goalkeeper Holly Van Noord earned second team honors. Van Noord and forward Julia Delgatti also secured spots on the conference's all-freshman squad. Much like Van Noord, Boone picked up a second accolade, as she was named to the all-academic team.
Head Coach Jessica Hain
Jessica Hain is in her fifth season as the head coach of the Lady Flames. Coming into the tournament, Hain has a career record of 56-49-14. 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.
From 2004-06, Hain was an assistant coach under Todd Bramble at Clemson. Each of her three seasons with the Lady Tigers, Clemson received an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, reaching the quarterfinals in her final season in 2006. In her three seasons at Clemson, the Lady Tigers recorded a 40-25-9 mark.
A four-year letterwinner in the collegiate ranks, Hain played two years in the midfield at Ohio State (1995-96) and two seasons at N.C. State (1997-98). She was a three-time National Soccer Coaches Association (NSCAA) of America Scholar-Athlete from 1995-97 and earned Academic All-ACC honors in 1998.
Liberty in Postseason/NCAA Tournament Play
Oct. 21, 2000 – First Women's Soccer Big South Championship
Liberty won its first-ever Big South Women's Soccer Championship, as the No. 2 seeded Lady Flames defeated No. 1 seed Elon, 2-0. On Nov. 3, Liberty defeated Tennessee Tech, 1-0, in a play-in game to advance to the NCAA Tournament, setting a then program record for most wins in a single season with 15.
The Lady Flames fell in the opening round to Wake Forest on Nov. 8, 6-1. The following year, Liberty captured its second Big South championship, once again defeating Elon, 2-0 (Nov. 10, 2001). The Lady Flames were defeated by Virginia (3-0) in the first round of the 2001 NCAA Tournament (Nov. 16), marking the end of a stellar career for now Liberty Athletics Hall of Fame member Nancy Davis.
Nov. 6, 2005 – Liberty Wins Third Big South Championship
Liberty won its third and most recent Big South championship on Nov. 6, 2005, defeating UNC Asheville, 3-0. With the victory, the Lady Flames became the first Big South program to capture three championships. Liberty went on to face Virginia in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, falling 4-0 (Nov. 11, 2005).