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Second Half Surge Moves Panthers Past Liberty
Looking to extend its conference win-streak to three games, the Liberty women's soccer team played host to defending Big South Champion High Point on Saturday. Unfortunately for the Lady Flames, the Panthers had other plans, scoring a trio of goals in the second half to take the contest, 3-0.
With the defeat, Liberty falls to 5-8-2 overall and 2-3 in conference play. High Point improves to 5-9-1 on the season and 3-1-1 in the Big South.
The Panthers looked to pounce first in the 17th minute of the opening period. Forward Kellie Joline broke away from the Liberty defense and fired a shot at goalkeeper Ashley Nyholt, who deflected the shot over the goal. Twenty ticks later, forward Jillie Johnston made a header attempt, but the shot landed wide.
In the stanza's 40th minute, Liberty's Heather Bentley had a chance to put the ball in from close range after receiving the give-and-go pass on a direct kick, but the attempt was corralled by Panther goalkeeper Andrea Ritchie, leading to a scoreless stalemate at halftime.
The Panthers did not remain quiet in the second half, netting all three of their goals in the period. Leading scorer Kelli Jolene put High Point on the scoreboard in the 52nd minute, belting a shot from the right side of the penalty area into the bottom of the net to give the visitor a 1-0 edge.
Nearly 11 minutes later, the Panthers found the net again, this time off a lofted pass from midfielder Sara Rager to midfielder Becca Hempy, who tapped it into the far right corner to make it 2-0.
High Point concluded its scoring in the beginning of the 73rd minute, when Cary Ann Parrish received a pass from Kaitlin Harris and proceeded to fire a shot into an open net for the finish and the 3-0 final.
The Panthers outshot Liberty 12-11, while the Lady Flames held a 5-4 edge in corner kicks. Nyholt played the entire 90 minutes for Liberty, recording five saves. Ritchie remained in the net for the duration of the contest for the Panthers, making three stops.
High Point remains in the Commonwealth next week to square off against VMI in Lexington, Va., on Friday. Game time is set for 2 p.m.
The Lady Flames will receive a six-day break from competition before hitting the road again to take on Commonwealth and conference competitor Radford. The Highlanders are currently 3-1-1 in conference play, after falling to Winthrop in Rock Hill, S.C., Friday night, 1-0. Radford will travel to Boiling Spring, N.C. to face Gardner-Webb Monday afternoon, before hosting Liberty. Game time for Saturday's matchup is slated for 7 p.m.