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Costa Rican Connection Leads Liberty to Victory
The Liberty women's soccer team closed out its stay in the nation's capital with its second-straight win, defeating Howard, 2-1, Sunday afternoon. With the win, the Lady Flames are now 7-1 all-time against the Bison.
Ariana Espinoza scored the game-winning goal for Liberty (3-3-2) in the 86th minute. With the contest tied at one apiece, the San Jose, Costa Rica, native connected on a header off a Heather Bentley free kick to give Liberty the win. Fellow Costa Rican Silvia Betancourt also scored for the Lady Flames in the contest, netting a goal in the first half.
In the matchup's 13th minute, Howard's (1-8-1) Retha Koefoed attempted a header at the Liberty net. Karen Blocker thwarted the shot, giving the redshirt junior sole possession of third place on Liberty's career saves list with 205.
The Lady Flames lit up the scoreboard in 15th minute thanks to an unassisted goal by Betancourt. The redshirt senior stripped the ball from a Howard player and found the back of the Bison net for the early 1-0 advantage. Betancourt's second goal of the season was the 21st of her Liberty career, surpassing Lauren Zealand (1999, 01, 03-04) for third place all-time for most goals in program history. The goal also tied Betancourt with Zealand for third on Liberty's career points list with 50.
Liberty's defense held the Bison attack at bay, allowing the Lady Flames to maintain their one-goal edge at halftime. Liberty outshot Howard in the opening period, 6-4. Each team finished the opening stanza with three corner kicks.
In the second period, freshman Helena Pereira nearly gave the Lady Flames an insurance goal in the 67th minute, firing a shot at the Bison net that deflected off the post. Just over a minute later, Koefoed gave Howard the equalizer. The forward nabbed the ball from a Liberty player and placed a shot in the upper right corner to knot the contest, 1-1.
As time began to wind down, a Howard foul set the Lady Flames up for a free kick in the 86th minute. Defender Bentley booted the kick in the direction of Espinoza, who headed the ball into the net for the eventual 2-1 victory.
Liberty outshot the Bison in the contest, 10-7, and held a 7-5 advantage in corner kicks. Kyra Dickson played the entire 90 minutes in goal for Howard, finishing with four saves. Blocker played in between the Liberty posts for the contest's duration, making two stops. The Bowie, Md., native has now allowed no more than one goal in the last seven contests.
The Lady Flames return to Osborne Stadium on Thursday, kicking off Big South Conference play with a contest against Coastal Carolina. Game time is slated for 7 p.m.