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Penalty Kicks End Lady Flames' Season
Coming off a 3-2 win over Coastal Carolina on Friday, the No. 6 seed Liberty women's soccer team matched up with Gardner-Webb Saturday night in the semifinals of the 2010 Big South Championship. After 110 minutes of scoreless action, the Lady Flames' season came to an end, as No. 7 Gardner-Webb advanced to the championship match by outscoring Liberty, 4-2, in a penalty kick shootout.
Liberty ends the 2010 campaign with an 8-10-3 record, while Gardner-Webb carries a 7-9-5 posting into the finals. The Runnin' Bulldogs will meet No. 5 seed High Point in the Big South Championship title match Sunday at 2 p.m., at Radford's Patrick D. Cupp Memorial Stadium.
Liberty controlled the offensive tempo for the majority of the opening period, outshooting the Runnin' Bulldogs, 8-6.
In the sixth minute, Liberty leading scorer Aimee Luurtsema had a good look at the Gardner-Webb net, firing a straight-on shot from the edge of the penalty area. However, the forward's shot was corralled by Runnin' Bulldogs goalkeeper Chelsea Hearne, keeping the game scoreless.
Luurtsema challenged Hearne again seven and a half minutes later, breaking away from a Gardner-Webb defender and making a sliding attempt. Once again Hearne was there to make the stop and prevent Liberty from igniting the scoreboard.
In the 27th minute, Liberty nearly capitalized on a set play. Midfielder Maggie Woody belted a free kick, setting up Ariana Espinoza for a header attempt, but the shot sailed high over the net.
Despite a number of opportunities for the Lady Flames, the game remained scoreless heading into halftime.
The second half mirrored the first, with neither team able to find the net. Gardner-Webb picked up the intensity in the second half, holding the edge in shots, 14-12, by the end of regulation. The Runnin' Bulldogs nearly capitalized on a free kick in the 83rd minute, when Megan Tremblay blasted a shot that ricocheted off the Liberty crossbar.
Fourteen seconds later, Sarah Keyser belted an attempt at the Lady Flames' net, but goalkeeper Ashley Nyholt made the stop, ultimately leading to a scoreless tie at the end of regulation.
Gardner-Webb applied pressure in the opening minutes of the first overtime, with Liberty gaining the momentum in the closing minutes. The Lady Flames' best scoring chance came in the 100th minute, as
Maria Owen attempted a bicycle kick. Owen's shot went to the right of the Gardner-Webb net, making way for the second overtime period.
The latter extra period resembled the first, with Gardner-Webb controlling the opening minutes and Liberty gaining momentum toward the end of the session. The Runnin' Bulldogs were able to take the last shot, as Megan Reimer booted a shot from 25 yards out that was recovered by Nyholt. The netminder's stop resulted in a scoreless tie, setting up a shootout.
In the shootout, Gardner-Webb outshot the Lady Flames, 4-2, to advance to the finals of the Big South Championship.
Gardner-Webb outshot the Lady Flames 19-16 on the evening and held a 6-1 advantage in corner kicks.
Nyholt remained in between the posts the entire contest, recording six saves. The Brampton, Ontario native finishes her career third all-time on Liberty's career saves list with 204. Hearne played the entire contest for the Runnin' Bulldogs, finishing with six saves.