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Lady Flames Fall to Crusaders, 1-0
The Lady Flames and Crusaders traded possession in the early minutes of the game, with Valparaiso recording the first shot at 5:27, as forward Luisa Desario sent her attempt wide. After an unsuccessful Crusader corner kick, Liberty tried to generate an offensive attack but the Valparaiso defense kept the Lady Flames contained.
Jessie White broke away from the pack in the eighth minute, going one-on-one with Liberty keeper Karen Blocker, but her open shot missed to the left.
Aimee Luurtsema recorded Liberty's first shot in the 11th minute with a long shot attempt that was saved by Crusader keeper Mele Cabral.
Valparaiso's Jackie Kondratko took a shot at 14:57, but it flew over the goal to keep the game scoreless. The Crusaders kept possession and nearly scored on another shot by Desario that was saved by Blocker.
Valparaiso was able to able to take a 1-0 lead at 23:47, when Brooke Henderson sent a header into the back of the net off a corner kick by Rachel Hoaglin.
Forward Maria Owen got a shot off for Liberty at 26:20, but the long attempt was saved by Cabral.
Blocker made a key save in the 38th minute when Hoaglin took an open shot from close range, and the score remained 1-0 going into halftime.
The second half started much like the first, with the two squads trading possession before the Crusaders took control.
Valpo took two shots in less than a minute, first at 51:04 when Tracy Roos sent one wide, then at 52:00 when a Henderson attempt missed on the left side.
The Lady Flames came close to a scoring opportunity a few minutes later, when Owen sent a pass to Lauren Stell, but Cabron reached the ball before Stell could take a shot.
Stell did make an attempt in the 66th minute, taking a pass from Owen and shooting one toward the goal at point-blank range, but Cabron's quick hands made the save.
Liberty took another shot with 20:20 remaining when Silvia Betancourt made an attempt on a pass from Sarah Robinson, but Cabron made the save once again.
Jordan Woody found herself in a near-scoring situation in the 78th minute when she raced inside the 18-yard box on a pass from Madison Short, but Cabron was able to get to the ball first.
One minute later, Alyssa Anderson sent a free kick toward the goal, but the Valpo defense managed to deflect it. Short then made an attempt at 80:27 from 20 yards out that missed wide on the right side.
The Lady Flames rallied in the final six minutes, and their defense was highlighted by aggressive play from defenders Elia Lake and Rachel Wisehart. But despite the sense of urgency as the clock wound down, the Crusaders were able to maintain their edge. Aimee
Luurtsema made a last ditch effort for Liberty at the one-minute mark, but the ball was punched away by Cabron, and the Crusaders walked away with the 1-0 win.
Liberty was led by Luurtsema with two shots, while Owen, Betancourt, Short and Stell each had one attempt. Blocker made four saves in goal.
Henderson led the Crusaders, scoring the only goal of the game, while Desario led all players with four shots. Valparaiso keeper Cabron recorded five saves.
The Crusaders outshot the Lady Flames, 12-6, and also held the advantage in corner kicks, 10-1.
The Lady Flames drop to 1-5 on the year, while Valparaiso improves to 3-5.
Liberty is back in action Sunday afternoon, taking on Northern Illinois in another first-time matchup. Match time is scheduled for 2 p.m. EST.