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Liberty Maintains Conference Lead with 2-0 Shutout of Birmingham-Southern
Currently atop the conference standings, the Lady Flames improve to 5-1-1 in the Big South and 7-6-1 overall, while the Panthers drop to 4-2 in conference play and 7-7 overall. Liberty is unbeaten in its five matches (4-0-1).
The contest began with Liberty pressuring the Birmingham-Southern net early as Emily House (So., D, Lynchburg, Va.) lofted a high shot over the head of Panther goalkeeper Brittany Green which the keeper was able to bat down in front of net. The Lady Flames' Rachel Hetrick (Jr., F, Grantville, Pa.) on the attack, got a shot off the rebound, but Green got back into position to make the save and keep Liberty off the scoreboard.
After trading shots, the Lady Flames broke through for the game's first score in the contest's 18th minute. Oberlin (So., F, Ada, Mich.) would scoop up a loose ball on the left side of the field and send a cross into the box, which Wheelock (MF, Front Royal, Va.), playing in her last home match at Liberty Soccer Field, headed into the left corner of the net for a 1-0 Liberty lead. It was the senior midfielder's fourth of the season and the third straight game in which the senior has scored a goal.
Liberty took the 1-0 lead into intermission and quickly added to it less than two minutes into the second half. Oberlin pounced on ill-advised clearing pass up the middle and after a few dribbles, sent a blast into the right corner of the net to extend the Lady Flames' advantage to 2-0. For Liberty's leading scorer, it was her fifth goal of goal of the season.
From there, the Liberty defense took over. The Panthers did have several opportunities in the half to cut into the Liberty lead, including a corner kick by Catlin Gordon which Lady Flame keeper Katherine Neff (Sr., Guelph, Ont.) made an outstanding stop on and a sliding shot on a breakaway by Claire Hooten which Neff came out of the net to block away, but could not capitalize on them.
For the game, Liberty outshot Birmingham-Southern, 13-9, while the Panthers held a 3-1 advantage in corner kicks. In a cleanly played contest, the fouls were even at seven per side.
Neff finished with six saves on the afternoon in the Lady Flame net, while the Panthers' Green also made six saves.
Liberty's Hetrick led all players in the contest with four shots, while Gordon had three for Birmingham-Southern.
Before playing in their final home game, senior Lady Flames Paige Cheek (D, Gambrills, Md.), Kristin Faxon (MF, Chester, N.H.), Alaina Hohnarth (MF, Hamburg, N.J.) and Wheelock were honored for their contributions to Liberty women's soccer.
Liberty completes its regular season next Saturday as they travel to Rock Hill, S.C. to square off with the Winthrop Lady Eagles in Big South Conference action. Match time is set for 2 p.m.