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Lady Flames Open Season Against No. 6 Virginia, Friday
The Liberty Lady Flames soccer team heads to Charlottesville, Va., Friday evening, to open the 2010 season against No. 6 Virginia. Game time at Klöckner Stadium is slated for 7 p.m.
On Monday, the Lady Flames make their 2011 Osborne Stadium debut against Longwood. The clash with the Lancers is set for 7 p.m.
How to Follow the Lady Flames
Live stats will be available on LibertyFlames.com, by clicking the appropriate link on the women's soccer schedule/results panel. Live stats for Friday's game will be provided by the Virginia media relations office.
Friday's matchup is the 11th meeting all-time between Liberty and Virginia. The contest also marks the third-straight time Liberty has opened the season against the Commonwealth competitor. The Lady Flames are looking for an unprecedented win against the Cavaliers, as the host team holds a 10-0-0 advantage in the series. The two squads first met in 2001, matching up during the regular season (Sept. 26) and again in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament (Nov. 16).
Scouting the Cavaliers
Virginia concluded last season with a 15-5-2 record, advancing to the NCAA Round of 16 before falling to Ohio State, 3-2, on Nov. 20.
The Cavaliers (2-0) opened the 2011 season with a pair of wins last weekend. In their season opener last Friday, Virginia rallied from a 1-0 deficit in the eighth minute for a 2-1 win over then-No. 13 West Virginia. The Cavaliers followed that with a 6-0 win over Richmond on Sunday. Gloria Douglas leads UVa offensively with one goal and three assists over the first two games.
Looking Ahead: Longwood
Following Friday's meeting with the Cavaliers, Liberty returns to Osborne Stadium on Monday to host Longwood. Liberty leads the all-time series versus Longwood, holding a 6-3-1 mark against the Lancers.
Liberty is looking to avenge last season's narrow loss to the Lancers at the Longwood Athletics Complex (Sept. 24, 2010). The contest remained scoreless until the 72nd minute, when the Lancers' Lauren Trinza connected on a header, allowing Longwood to edge the Lady Flames, 1-0.
Hain at the Helm
Liberty Head Women's Soccer Coach Jessica Hain enters her fourth season at the program's helm. In her second season with the Lady Flames, Hain garnered top conference honors, as she was named 2009 Big South Coach of the Year.
Hain came to Liberty after three seasons with the Charlotte Lady Eagles of the United States (USL) W-League, the premier women's soccer league in the United States, as an assistant to head coach Lee Horton. With the club, Hain was responsible for recruiting players for the team, implementing training sessions, running camps and clinics and coaching, training and teaching sports ministry, both in the United States and in Brazil.
A four-year letterwinner in the collegiate ranks, Hain played two years in the midfield at Ohio State (1995-96) and two seasons at N.C. State (1997-98). She was a three-time National Soccer Coaches Association (NSCAA) of America Scholar-Athlete from 1995-97 and earned Academic All-ACC honors in 1998.
Liberty returns eight of its 11 starters from its 2010 squad. Among those returning for the Lady Flames include:
Aimee Luurtsema (All-Conference Second Team, VaSID All-State First Team)
Ariana Espinoza (All-Conference Second Team)
Madison Short (All-Conference Second Team, All-Tournament Team)
Back in the Net
Goalkeeper Karen Blocker returns to the net for the Lady Flames after missing the entire 2010 season due to injury.
A 2009 Big South first team all-conference selection, Blocker started 17 games in the Liberty net two seasons ago. Before suffering a season-ending forearm injury in Liberty's game against Radford (Oct. 25, 2009), Blocker posted a 1.16 goals against average and a .845 save percentage in 1320.53 minutes of action.
Blocker also racked up 93 saves on the year and went nearly 500 minutes in her final six games without allowing a single goal. However, due to the severity of her injury, Blocker missed the entire 2010 season. The redshirt junior netminder returns to the field fifth all-time in school history with 162 career saves.
Liberty has been picked to finish fifth in the 2011 Big South Conference preseason women's soccer poll, as voted upon by the league's head coaches.
Two-time defending Big South champion High Point claimed the top spot in the poll, garnering five first-place votes and 108 total points. Radford was a close second, with a pair of first-place votes and 102 points.
The Panthers and Highlanders swept the preseason individual honors, as High Point forward Kelli Joline was voted Preseason Attacking Player of the Year and Radford goalkeeper Che' Brown was named Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. Liberty senior Aimee Luurtsema was just one point behind Joline in the voting for Preseason Attacking Player of the Year, after scoring a team-high 13 goals in 2010.
2011 Big South Conference Preseason Women's Soccer Poll
Team (First-Place Votes) – Points
1) High Point (5) – 108
2) Radford (2) – 102
3) Charleston Southern (2) – 90
4) Coastal Carolina (1) – 80
5) Liberty – 75
6T) Campbell – 72
6T) Winthrop (1) – 72
8) Gardner-Webb – 59
9) VMI – 25
10) UNC Asheville – 23
11) Presbyterian College – 20