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Lady Flames Victorious over Valparaiso
The Liberty women's soccer team picked up its first win of the season, Sunday afternoon, defeating Valparaiso, 3-1, in the final contest of the Liberty Invitational at Osborne Stadium.
With the win, the Lady Flames are now 1-2-1 on the season, while the Crusaders fall to 2-3. It was the first meeting ever between the two programs on the soccer field.
Three different Liberty players recorded goals on the afternoon – Laura Nyholt, Kelly Henion and Megan Warner. Lauren Stell recorded two assists for the Lady Flames, while Henion, Silvia Betancourt and Ariana Espinoza chipped in one each. Casey Pedersen netted the lone goal for the Crusaders.
Liberty took an early advantage in the 12th minute. Following a Stell corner kick, Espinoza headed a shot at the Valparaiso goal that ricocheted off the cross bar. Redshirt senior Laura Nyholt picked up the loose rebound and tapped it into the right corner of net for the 1-0 lead. The goal was the midfielder's first of season
In the 34th minute, the Lady Flames tried to up their advantage. Freshman Alanna Dunkle sent a crossing pass to the center of the 18-yard box for Stell, who fired a shot from within five feet in front of the net. However, Stell's shot was high, preventing Liberty from increasing its lead.
The Lady Flames had another scoring opportunity during the 40th minute. Dunkle took a lofted free kick just inside the top right corner of the box and fired a shot at the Crusaders' net, only to see Valparaiso goalkeeper Kristen Manski make the stop. The save ultimately led to the 1-0 halftime score.
Liberty outshot Valparaiso in the opening stanza, 8-3, and held a 6-5 advantage in corner kicks.
The Lady Flames wasted little time getting on the scoreboard in the second period, finding the net less than two minutes into the half. Betancourt pushed a pass forward for Henion, who broke away from the Valparaiso defender and ripped a shot into the right corner to put Liberty up, 2-0. It was Henion's first goal of her collegiate career.
Warner capped off Liberty's scoring on the day in 60th minute, finishing off of passes from Henion and Stell for the first goal of her college career and the third Liberty goal of the game.
Valparaiso spoiled the shutout in the 69th minute, when Pedersen belted a close range shot into the Liberty net off a rebound. The Lady Flames limited the Crusaders' chances the rest of the way, en route a 3-1 victory.
Liberty outshot Valparaiso, 17-8, on the afternoon, while the Crusaders held the edge in corner kicks, 12-8.
Karen Blocker recorded with three saves in the Liberty net. Manski recorded eight saves for Valparaiso.
Liberty heads to Richmond, Va., next Sunday, for a matchup against the Richmond Spiders. Game time is slated for 6 p.m.