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Lady Flames Prepare Clash with VCU Rams Friday
The Liberty Lady Flames return to the soccer field Friday night, taking on VCU in Richmond, Va. at 7 p.m. Following their visit to VCU's Sports Bracket Stadium, the Lady Flames will head to Elon, N.C., for a Sunday matchup with the Elon Phoenix at 5 p.m.
How to Follow the Lady Flames
Live stats will be available on LibertyFlames.com, by clicking the appropriate link on the women's soccer schedule/results page. Live stats will be provided by the VCU and Elon media relations offices. A video link will also be available for Liberty's game against VCU, with a fee of $7.99 to view the webcast.
Liberty/VCU Series Notes
Liberty's game this Friday against VCU will be the 12th meeting all-time between the two
teams. VCU leads the series with a 7-3-1 record. The Rams took the last meeting at Liberty Soccer Field on Oct. 5, 2004, defeating the Lady Flames, 2-0.
Scouting the Rams
VCU enters Friday's contest with a 2-2-1 record. The Rams are coming off a loss on Sunday to UCF in Orlando, Fla. Sophomore Bre White put the Rams on the board early, scoring in the third minute of the contest. However, the Knights responded with four unanswered goals to take the contest, 4-1.
White leads the Rams' offense this season with three goals. Freshman goalkeeper Megan Lynch has occupied the net in all five games for VCU. The Rams' netminder currently has 17 saves on the (.708 save percentage) and has a 1.34 goals-against average on the season.
Liberty/Elon Series Notes
Liberty will meet a familiar opponent when it takes on Elon this Sunday. The Lady Flames currently hold a 6-5-1 edge in the all-time series over the Phoenix. During Elon's days in the Big South, the two squads met three-straight years in the conference championship (1999-2001), with the Lady Flames taking home the trophy in 2000 and 2001.
In the 2000 championship game against the former Big South member, Liberty's Nancy Davis netted both goals for the Lady Flames, en route to a 2-0 victory and Liberty's inaugural conference title. Davis' performance throughout the tournament earned her Big South Championship MVP honors.
The following year, Liberty met Elon in the championship game for the third consecutive season, prevailing in the rubber match, 2-0. Following in her older sister Nancy's footsteps, Jenny Davis netted both of Liberty's goals in the contests, capturing MVP honors.
Liberty's most recent meeting with Elon took place Sept. 4, 2005 at the Summit Hospitality Invite in Cary, N.C., ending in a 1-1 tie.
Scouting the Phoenix
Elon currently holds a 3-1 record this season, earning two of its three wins against Big South teams. Last Friday, the Phoenix defeated Gardner-Webb, 2-1, in their opening match at the UNC Wilmington Tournament. Elon followed up its win over the Runnin' Bulldogs with a 3-1 victory over Coastal Carolina on Sunday, concluding their stay in Wilmington.
Elon has a chance to pick up its third-straight win over a Big South member on Thursday night, as it plays host to UNC Asheville, prior to its Sunday meeting with Liberty.
Last Time Out
Liberty made its 2010 debut in Osborne Stadium this past Friday night, hosting James Madison. Despite playing its most closely contested game in the all-time series against the Dukes, a late goal in the 74th minute allowed the visiting team to edge the Lady Flames, 1-0.
After a four-player substitution by James Madison at 22:42, the Dukes intensified their attack, putting up six of their nine first half shots to close out the first period. Liberty goalkeeper Ashley Nyholt remained poised during the span, stopping a header from midfielder Teresa Rynier in the 42nd minute.
With 11 ticks remaining in the period, Nyholt stuffed another attempt, this time from forward Lauren Wilson from in close. The Canadian's save kept the contest scoreless at halftime. Nyholt played the entire game in the net for the Lady Flames, recording eight saves.
Probably Liberty's best opportunity at a marker came in the 64th minute, when midfielder Kristi McBrien received a pass from forward Silvia Betancourt. After juking a defender, McBrien launched a shot from inside the penalty area, but the attempt was thwarted by James Madison goalkeeper Diane Wszalek.
Just over 10 minutes after Liberty's attempt, James Madison netted its lone goal of the game. Upon receiving a pass from Rynier, Cate Tisinger lofted a shot from 25 yards out which landed in the left corner of the net for the 1-0 final.
Surpassing the Past
With three goals and one assist through the first five games of the season, Aimee Luurtsema is already close to surpassing her season totals from 2009. Last season, the midfielder netted three goals and had three assists, garnering nine points over 19 games. Luurtsema is currently tied for second in the Big South in total points with seven.
Junior midfielder Aimee Luurtsema scored two goals in Liberty's 4-1 win over Appalachian State on Aug. 27 for her first career multi-goal game.
Silvia Betancourt's two goals in Liberty's 3-3 tie with Marshall on Aug. 29 was her third career multi-goal game. Betancourt previously scored a pair of goals during two games in the 2009 season. The two-goal contests came at Francis Marion on Sept. 24, 2009 and Coastal Carolina on Oct. 5, 2009.
Saving the Day
Through Liberty's first five games, senior goalkeeper Ashley Nyholt sits is second among Big South goalkeepers with 32 saves. She is currently three saves behind Presbyterian's Sarah Beth Anderson, who has 35 in 2010. Nyholt is coming off an eight save performance in Liberty's 1-0 loss to JMU, allowing only one goal in 19 shots taken by the Dukes. The Canadian goalkeeper also achieved a career high in saves earlier this season, garnering nine in Liberty's 1-1 tie with South Carolina State on Aug. 22.
Hain at the Helm
Liberty Head Women's Soccer Coach Jessica Hain enters her third season at the program's helm. Last season, Hain led the Lady Flames to a Big South regular-season title and was named 2009 Big South Coach of the Year.
Hain came to Liberty after three seasons with the Charlotte Lady Eagles of the United States (USL) W-League, the premier women's soccer league in the United States, as an assistant to head coach Lee Horton. With the club, Hain was responsible for recruiting players for the team, implementing training sessions, running camps and clinics and coaching, training and teaching sports ministry, both in the United States and in Brazil.
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.
The Liberty women's soccer team was chosen first in the Big South Conference's annual preseason poll, as voted by the league's head women's soccer coaches.
Liberty, the defending 2009 regular-season champions, received five first-place votes and 94 points as the 2010 women's soccer favorite. The Lady Flames finished ahead of Charleston Southern in the poll, as the Buccaneers totaled 87 points and four first-place votes.
The Lady Flames will return to Osborne Stadium next Wednesday, to host Southern Virginia at 4 p.m. Liberty will then host Howard, next Friday, at 7 p.m.