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Liberty Wins 3-2, Advances to BSC Semifinals
After waiting an extra 24 hours for play to begin, the No. 6 seed Liberty women's soccer team took advantage of the additional rest in the quarterfinals of the 2010 Big South Championship, Friday afternoon. Matching up against No. 3 seed Coastal Carolina, the Lady Flames defeated the Chanticleers, 3-2, at Radford Patrick D. Cupp Memorial Stadium.
Liberty's victory marks its first Big South Championship win since Nov. 3, 2006, when the Lady Flames defeated the Chanticleers, 3-0, in the semifinal round.
With the win, Liberty improves to 8-10-2 overall, while Coastal Carolina ends its season at 10-8-2.
After 22 minutes with neither team finding the net, Liberty lit up the scoreboard first to take a 1-0 lead.
Midfielder Laura Nyholt sent a corner kick from the left side into the box, setting up an opportunity for Lauren Stell, who finished with a close-range header straight into the Coastal Carolina net.
Liberty capitalized on another corner in the 31st minute to extend its advantage. Once again, Nyholt placed the corner kick in front of the box. This time, forward Maria Owen collected the ball off the bounce and high kicked it into the net to make it 2-0, Lady Flames. Owen's tally was her fifth on the season and the 18th of her career.
Although the Chanticleers found themselves deep in Liberty territory in the closing seconds of the opening period, the Lady Flames held off the attack, taking a two-goal lead into the locker room at halftime.
Coastal Carolina wasted little time slicing into the Liberty advantage in the second stanza. Just over two minutes into the period, Kate Wilkinson fed a pass to Hannah Brown, who belted it from the edge of the box. Brown's shot went just under the crossbar and into the Liberty net, making it 2-1.
The Lady Flames reclaimed a two-goal lead in the 61st minute. Following a short distance corner kick, midfielder Madison Short made a pass to Ariana Espinoza, who sent it in from close range to up the ante, 3-1.
Liberty was unable to hold the two-goal edge for very long, as the Chanticleers netted their second tally 42 seconds later. The marker came when Brown took full advantage of a free kick, blasting a shot from 24 yards out, placing it just inside the far post to cut Coastal Carolina's deficit to the final margin of 3-2.
The Lady Flames' defense stood firm for the remainder of the contest, maintaining the team's one-goal advantage all the way until the final horn.
Liberty outshot the Chanticleers 15-12 in the contest and held a 4-2 advantage in corner kicks.
Goalkeeper Ashley Nyholt played in between the posts the entire 90 minutes for the Lady Flames, collecting six saves. Amy Haggard remained in the net for Coastal Carolina for the duration of the contest, finishing with four saves.
The Lady Flames now await Friday night's winner of Game 4 between No. 2 seed Radford and No. 7 Gardner-Webb. Liberty will meet the victor in Game 6 of the Big South Championship. Game time is slated for 7 p.m. on Saturday.