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South Dakota State Downs Liberty 2-0 in Regular-Season Finale
Liberty falls to 6-11 overall on the season. The Lady Flames closed their conference season Wednesday at 3-4 with a victory over UNC Asheville, and now await the final weekend of Big South action to determine their seeding and opponent in the opening round of the conference championship, scheduled to begin Thursday. South Dakota State moves to 8-4-4 on the year.
Liberty controlled play throughout the first 20 minutes of the opening period, firing three shots over the span. Senior Suzanne Edwards (F, Waxhaw, N.C.) playing in her last game at Liberty Soccer Field, forced a save by Jackrabbit keeper Nicole Lograsso with the first shot of the night in the fourth minute mark. Another save by Lograsso, on a shot by defender Christina McDonald (So., Rosewell, Ga.) in the 20th minute, closed the span.
South Dakota State was able to close the shot deficit over the last 10 minutes of half with three shot attempts. However, all three efforts came from outside the penalty area and none of the shots were put on net.
After an evenly played opening half with Liberty holding a slight 5-4 advantage in shots, the Lady Flames pressured the Jackrabbit net with four more shots in the opening 10 minutes of play after the intermission. Liberty came close to breaking the deadlock with its last shot of the burst. Midfielder Amy Oberlin (Jr., Ada, Mich.) found senior Rachel Hetrick (F, Grantville, Pa.) with a cross near the far post. However, Hetrick's header went just outside the post, to keep the contest scoreless in the 57th minute.
Moments later, South Dakota State converted on its first shot attempt of the half to take a 1-0 advantage. Justice, who entered the contest as a substitute in the 54th minute, picked up a loose ball, passed a defender on the left side and beat the Lady Flames' keeper with a low shot at 57:38. It was the forward's fourth marker of the year.
Justice later sealed the Jackrabbits' victory with her second goal of the game, in the 82nd minute. Forward Kelsey Worcester sent a cross to Justice, who beat a defender and found net with a shot from 15 yards out for a 2-0 South Dakota edge and her fifth goal of the season.
In the contest, the Lady Flames outshot the Jackrabbits, 14-10, and held a 7-3 advantage in corner kicks.
Liberty starter Lauren Kamphuis (So., Bloomington, Ill.) made one save while playing the first half in the Lady Flame net. Ashley Nyholt recorded one save during her time in the Liberty goal in the second half. Lograsso stopped six Lady Flame shots during the contest.
Before the contest, the five seniors on the Liberty roster were recognized for their contributions during their four years with the program. Edwards, Hetrick, Kendall Bartholomew (F, Thaxton, Va.), Brittney Bench (F, Orefield, Pa.) and Tanya Payne (F, Prescott, Ariz.) were all honored before playing their final home game at Liberty Soccer Field.
Liberty now await seeding and its opponent for the opening round of the Big South Women's Soccer Championship, set to open on Thursday at Blackbaud Stadium in Charleston, S.C. The seedings and pairing will be announced Sunday evening by the conference office.