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Lady Flames Fall in Big South Opener, 3-2
With the setback, Liberty drops to 0-1 in conference action and 0-6 overall. Charleston Southern improves to 4-3 overall and 1-0 in the Big South.
The contest opened with the squads exchanging shots through the first 30 minutes of action. Each team came close to netting the first marker in the contest's opening minutes. Lady Flame midfielder Amy Oberlin (Jr., Ada, Mich.) forced a save by Charleston Southern keeper Jena Uvalle in the 12th minute, while Lady Buccaneer forward Emma Matteson hit the post with a shot in the 14th minute.
Matteson staked host Charleston Southern to a 1-0 advantage at the 31:00 mark. Off a cross from Michelle Dennis, midfielder Jen Vroman connected on a pass back across the penalty area to Matteson. The forward placed a shot in the lower part of the net for her second goal of the year and a Lady Buccaneer edge.
Liberty countered quickly, knotting the match four minutes later. Midfielder Christina McDonald (So., Rosewell, Ga.) found an open Maria Owen (Fr., F, Mount Jackson, Va.) with a crossing pass, and the forward beat the CSU keeper with a low shot. The goal, at 35:01, was Owen's first of her collegiate career.
The opening period ended with no further scoring, as the contest went to intermission tied 1-1. In an evenly played half, the Lady Buccaneers held a 9-8 edge in shots, while the Lady Flames had a 5-1 advantage in corner kicks.
The second half saw plenty of shot opportunities for both squads, as the teams combined for 21 shot attempts in the period.
Charleston Southern broke the deadlock in the 59th minute on Michelle Dennis' fifth goal of the season. Dennis took a cross into the penalty area by Christine Bethke, who had just entered the game at 56:55, and tucked the ball into the lower left corner of the net for a 2-1 lead.
The Lady Buccaneers upped their advantage eight minutes later. A free kick by Vroman was blocked down by Liberty keeper Ashley Nyholt (Fr., Brampton, Ont.). However, the netminder was unable to control the loose ball and it rolled in for a 3-1 CSU advantage.
Trailing, Liberty brought pressure on the CSU defense, firing seven shots on goal, before cutting its deficit to one at 79:51. The Lady Buccaneer goalkeeper, Uvalle, could not corral a corner kick by Maggie Woody (So., MF, Waxhaw, N.C.). Oberlin pounced on the loose ball, putting it past the netminder to make it, 3-2. It was the midfielder's first of the year.
The Lady Flames pushed for the equalizer, but could not even the score in the last 15 minutes of play. Liberty's best opportunity may have come on a shot in the 82nd minute by Woody, which hit the post.
The Lady Flames outshot the Lady Buccaneers, 21-17, on the afternoon. Liberty also held the edge in corner kicks, 7-2.
Nyholt recorded four saves in the Liberty net, while Uvalle made seven stops for Charleston Southern.
Liberty continues its South Carolina swing with its first-ever visit to Presbyterian, Sunday. Game time is scheduled for 1 p.m.