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Liberty Prepares for Final Week of Regular Season
The Liberty women's soccer team wraps up the regular season at Osborne Stadium this week with two conference matchups. The Lady Flames will host UNC Asheville on Wednesday at 4 p.m. On Friday, Liberty returns to action for a contest against Presbyterian College. Game time is slated for 7 p.m.
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A Look At Liberty
The Lady Flames enter Friday's contest with a 5-10-2 record overall and 2-5 posting in conference play. Liberty is looking bounce back from a three-game losing skid, after dropping contests to High Point (3-0), Radford (5-0) and VMI (2-1).
Liberty is currently third in the conference in goals (26) and points (72), sitting behind Charleston Southern and Radford in both categories.
Aimee Luurtsema leads the team with nine goals and 22 points this season. The junior attacker achieved a milestone in Liberty's game against Gardner-Webb on Oct. 11, finishing with a goal and an assist to garner the third spot on Liberty's all-time single season points list. Luurtsema's goal and point totals place her at second behind Charleston Southern's Marky Boyce in the Big South this season in both categories.
Silvia Betancourt follows closely behind Luurtsema with eight goals, two assists and 18 points. The Costa Rica native currently sits at third in the conference in goals and points behind Boyce and Luurtsema. The forward needs just one assist to become the third player in school history to record at least 19 points in a single season.
Betancourt's goal on Oct. 11 against Gardner-Webb allowed her to surpass Amy Ingalls (1989-92) for sole possession of fourth place on Liberty's all-time career points list with 44. The marker also tied her with Ingalls for fourth place on Liberty's all-time career goals listing with 19.
Betancourt will be absent from the Liberty lineup for this week's contests, as she has been selected to play for the Costa Rican national team in an eight-squad World Cup qualification tournament.
Madison Short holds the title of Lady Flames assist leader with six this season. Short's latest helper came in Sunday's game against VMI, when the midfielder fed it to Bekah Moye for the finish in the contest's 20th minute. The midfielder is tied for fourth in single-season saves, recording the most by a Liberty player since 2001. Short is currently second in the Big South in assists behind High Point's Sara Rager, who has eight helpers this season.
Goalkeeper Ashley Nyholt has started in between the posts for the Lady Flames in all 17 contests. The Brampton, Ontario native is currently second in the conference in saves with 84. The senior enters Wednesday's contest with a 1.82 goals-against average.
Big South at a Glance
With the 2010 Big South Championship approaching, teams are jockeying for position in the standings. Charleston Southern and Winthrop are currently tied for the conference lead with an identical record of 5-1-1 in Big South action. The Lady Buccaneers and the Eagles will meet tomorrow for the chance to remain at the top, heading into the conference tournament.
Radford sits in the third spot with a 5-2-1 record, followed by Coastal Carolina (5-2), defending champion High Point (4-2-1), Gardner-Webb (3-3-1), VMI (2-5-1), Liberty (2-5), Presbyterian College (2-5) and UNC Asheville (0-7).
Liberty/UNC Asheville Series Notes
The Lady Flames currently hold an 11-7-2 advantage in the all-time series with UNC Asheville, which began in 1992. Last season, forward Maria Owen led Liberty to victory at UNC Asheville's Greenwood field on Oct. 30, finding the net in the contest's 10th minute to earn the 1-0 decision.
Liberty is riding a four-game unbeaten streak (3-0-1) against the Bulldogs, having not dropped a contest to the conference foe since a 4-1 loss at Greenwood Field on Oct. 10, 2005.
Scouting the Bulldogs
UNC Asheville enters Wednesday's contest with a 1-14 record overall and a 0-7 mark in conference play. On Sunday, the Bulldogs hosted Gardner-Webb, falling to the Runnin' Bulldogs, 3-0.
Offensively, UNC Asheville is led by three players with two goals apiece: Leilani Halkiotis, Mary Beale and Ferriss Roberts. Goalkeeper Megan Dent has played between the post in 11 games for the Bulldogs and is third in the conference in saves per game (5.55).
Liberty/Presbyterian College Series Notes
Liberty has yet to taste defeat against Presbyterian College, holding a 2-0-1 record in the budding series. The lone tie came in last season's contest at Martin Stadium, as the Lady Flames ended the regular-season with a scoreless draw (Nov. 1).
Scouting the Blue Hose
Presbyterian College currently holds a 5-11-1 record overall and a 2-5 record in conference play. Prior to Friday's meeting with the Lady Flames, the Blue Hose will travel to High Point, N.C., Wednesday night to take on the defending Big South champion High Point Panthers.
The Blue Hose are led by Rebecca Miller and Kate Baker, who each have three goals on the season. In between the posts for Presbyterian is the conference save leader Sarah Beth Anderson. The netminder currently has 96 saves this season and is second in the Big South in save percentage (.828) and shutouts (5).
Honoring the Seniors
Friday's matchup will mark Liberty's annual Senior Night. Prior to the game, the program will honor eight seniors –Alyssa Andersen, Abigail Austin, Kristi McBrien, Rachel Michener, Ashley Nyholt, Maria Owen, Caitlyn Riley and Maggie Woody.
Standing out among the class, Maria Owen has recorded 15 goals, nine assists and 39 points as a member of the Lady Flames. Owen's point total places her at sixth on Liberty's all-time points listing. Last season, Owen was named to the VaSID All-State second team and was a member of the Big South All-Conference first team.
Ashley Nyholt has played in between the posts for Liberty in a total of 40 games for nearly 3,387 minutes. She currently has a career goals-against average of 1.70. The Brampton, Ontario native has also made 179 saves during her career for a save percentage of .737. The netminder's save total places her fourth on Liberty's career saves list, ahead of teammate Karen Blocker (162). She is also tied for third all-time in career shutouts with seven. Nyholt's performance in last year's Big South Championship earned her a spot on the 2009 Big South All-Tournament team.
A five-year member of the Lady Flames roster, Maggie Woody currently has six goals, nine assists and 21 points in her collegiate career at Liberty. Woody most recently found the net in the 70th minute of Liberty's game against Gardner-Webb on Oct. 11. The marker, which capped off the Lady Flames' trio of goals, was her first of the season and her first since Oct. 3, 2008, in a game against Coastal Carolina.
The New 3G: Golden Goal Girl
Freshman Casey Norris netted her first career goal in Liberty's 1-0 overtime win against Winthrop on Oct. 9. The game-winning tally came in the 98th minute of the contest, with only 2:37 remaining in the overtime period. Norris' goal was somewhat reminiscent of last year's regular-season clash between the two squads, which occurred one year to the day (Oct. 9, 2009), and ended when forward Maria Owen netted a shot in the final 80 seconds of the second overtime to give Liberty a 1-0 victory.