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Liberty Edged 2-1 by Gardner-Webb
Silvia Betancourt staked Liberty to a 1-0 lead on a penalty kick in the first half, but Gardner-Webb erased the Lady Flames' advantage with two goals later in the period. The Bulldogs then held off Liberty in the second half for a 2-1 win, Thursday evening in a Big South women's soccer match at Greene-Harbison Stadium.
Liberty drops to 2-6 in the Big South and 2-12-1 on the year. Gardner-Webb moves to 2-4 in conference play and 4-11 overall.
In the opening minutes of the contest, Gardner-Webb was able to get off three quick shots, with two attempts sailing wide of the goal and one attempt by Bulldog Jillian Dean being stopped by Lady Flames keeper Ashley Nyholt (So., Brampton, Ont.) in the 12th minute.
Liberty countered with three shots of its own, starting in the 15th minute on a shot by Rachel Michener (So., MF, Pottstown, Pa.). Mallory Neff (Sr., MF, Sunbury, Pa.) followed with an attempt in the 19th minute, and another Michener shot in the 22nd minute finished the offensive burst by the Lady Flames. All three attempts were turned away by Bulldog netminder Jessica Tuggle.
Betancourt (Fr., San Jose, Costa Rica) got Liberty on the scoreboard in the 28th minute. As she dribbled the ball down the right side of the field and into the penalty area, the forward was fouled by a Gardner-Webb defender, resulting in a penalty kick. Betancourt rifled the ball past Tuggle's right side and into the corner of the net for a 1-0 Lady Flames lead. The marker was Bentancourt's third of the year.
The Liberty advantage was short-lived, as the homestanding Bulldogs knotted the game at 1-1, 20 seconds later. Paige Regan sent a shot into the 18-yard box, where a Liberty defender got a piece of it with her hand, awarding a penalty kick to the host team. Angie Harvey converted the kick, to tie the match at the 28:17 mark.
With the score tied at 1-1 in the 40th minute, Harvey dribbled the ball to the top right corner of the box and sent it over the defense to the back left portion of the penalty area. Tina Frost, who had just entered the contest as a substitute, stopped the ball near the end line, turned and flicked into the right side of the net for a 2-1 lead at intermission. The goal was Frost's first of the year and would turn out to be the game-winner.
Liberty came out firing in the second stanza, but was unable to get the equalizer.
Off a corner kick in the 63th minute, a header by defender Heather Bowling (Jr., Waxhaw, N.C.) was saved by Tuggle.
In the 73rd minute, a free kick by midfielder Maggie Woody (Jr., Asheville, N.C.) was stopped by Tuggle, as the Bulldog keeper held strong.
The Lady Flames possessed the ball for much of the final seven minutes, but each time Liberty attacked, Gardner-Webb was able to clear the penalty area, forcing the Lady Flames to regroup.
The last shot of the night by Lady Flame Maria Owen (So., MF, Mount Jackson, Va.) in the 88th minute was saved by Tuggle, sealing Gardner-Webb's first home win of the year.
For the match, Tuggle amassed seven saves, while Nyholt recorded three stops.
Gardner-Webb outshot Liberty, 15-11, in the match, while the Lady Flames held a 6-4 edge in corner kicks.
Liberty travels to Rock Hill, S.C., on Saturday for a Big South contest with Winthrop. Match time is scheduled for 7 p.m.