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Liberty to Square off with Richmond, Sunday

September 9, 2011
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Lady Flames freshman forward Alanna Dunkle

The Liberty women's soccer team heads to Richmond, Va., to take on the Richmond Spiders, Sunday. Liberty takes the field against the Commonwealth competitor for the third time in program history. Game time at Robins Field is set for 6 p.m.

A Look at Liberty
Liberty (1-2-1) picked up its first win of the season, Sunday afternoon, defeating Valparaiso, 3-1, in the final contest of the Liberty Invitational.

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.

Two other Lady Flames have one goal on the season. Aimee Luurtsema found the net in Liberty's season opener versus No. 6 Virginia (Aug. 26), while Betancourt connected on a penalty kick in the 1-1 tie against Longwood (Aug. 29).

Karen Blocker has played all 380 minutes in the net for the Lady Flames, making 19 saves and holding a 2.84 goals against average on the season.

Liberty was picked to finish fifth in the Big South standings at season's end in the conference's preseason poll.  The Lady Flames return 20 players from last season's squad, including All-Big South second team defender Arianna Espinoza, midfielder Madison Short and forward Luurtsema.

A Look at Richmond
Richmond enters Sunday's contest with a 2-3-2 record on the season. The Spiders have played two common opponents of the Lady Flames, opening the season with a 0-0 tie versus Longwood and falling to Virginia, 6-0. Coach Peter Albright's team is coming off its biggest win of the season on Thursday, defeating No. 21 William & Mary, 2-0.

Becca Wann leads the Spiders attack with five goals, while Liza Koch is pacing the team with four assists. Goalkeepers Melissa Pacheco and Andrea Young have split time between the posts, recording 25 and 16 saves, respectively. Pacheco sports a 1.25 goals against average, while Young has a goals against average of 1.97.

All-time Series
Sunday's contest marks the third all-time meeting between the Lady Flames and the Spiders, with Richmond holding a 2-0 advantage in the series. The two squads have not met since Sept. 3, 1997, when the Spiders defeated the Lady Flames, 4-0.

Blocker Tabbed Big South Defensive Player of the Week
Liberty women's soccer goalkeeper Karen Blocker was tabbed the Big South Conference Defensive Player of the Week for games played last week. Blocker concluded the week with 15 saves (.833 save percentage) and allowed just three goals (0.93 goals against average) in three games.

The Liberty netminder began the week with a five-save performance in a 1-1 tie with Longwood on Aug. 29. Last Friday, Blocker recorded seven stops in Liberty's game against Brown, allowing one goal on 15 shots taken by the Bears. In the Lady Flames' 3-1 victory over Valparaiso on Sunday, the Bowie, Md., native finished the contest with three saves. The redshirt junior is currently fifth all-time in school history with 181 career saves.

Career Firsts
In Liberty's 3-1 win over Valparaiso, two Lady Flames picked up the first goal of their collegiate career – Kelly Henion and Megan Warner.

Less than two minutes into the second half, midfielder Silvia Betancourt pushed a pass forward for Henion, who broke away from a Valparaiso defender and ripped a shot into the right corner to put Liberty up, 2-0.
Warner capped off Liberty's scoring on the day in 60th minute, finishing off of passes from Henion and Stell to seal the Lady Flames' win.

Looking Ahead
Liberty returns to Osborne Stadium next Friday, to host to South Carolina State. The contest is slated for a 7 p.m. start and is part of a double header that features the Liberty men's soccer team against Howard at 4 p.m.