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Pair of North Carolina Programs on Slate for Liberty Field Hockey
The Liberty field hockey team will face off with a pair of programs from the Tar Heel State this weekend, hosting ACC member Wake Forest Friday at 4 p.m., before traveling to meet with NorPac member Davidson, at 1 p.m., Sunday.
The two games begin the Lady Flames' toughest stretch of their inaugural season, in which they will take on five-consecutive NCAA Division I opponents.
Liberty (5-6) is coming off back-to-back wins after defeating a pair of Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) programs last week. On Wednesday, the Lady Flames recorded their first home victory, as they defeated Roanoke, 4-1, on the team's senior day. Freshmen Alex Hibbs and Morgan DeMann each posted the first goal of their collegiate careers, with Hibbs also adding a second goal. Leading scorer Helen Doolittle also notched a goal in the victory.
On Saturday, Liberty produced its second-consecutive four-goal performance, defeating Washington & Lee in Lexington, Va., 4-0. A quartet of freshmen led the team to victory, with Abby Batdorf, Mercedes Cox, Lindsey Hanks and Doolittle each finding the back of the cage. Doolittle's goal was her team-leading sixth of the season. Batdorf also recorded an assist in the contest, while goalkeeper Ann Jefferis earned her third shutout of the season.
Liberty's four-goal output in two games serves as its best of the season, while it also helped the team win back-to-back games for the second time this year.
The Demon Deacons will make the trip to Liberty Mountain on Friday for a contest that was added to the schedule earlier this week. Wake Forest holds a deceptive record of 5-8, as it has faced some of the top teams in the country this season, and began the year ranked No. 11 in the Kookaburra/National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) Division I Preseason Poll. Despite being outside the current polls, Wake is No. 21 in the current RPI ratings.
In seven games against ranked opponents this season, the Demon Deacons are 1-6, with four of their defeats coming by just a one-goal margin. This includes a pair of one goal losses to North Carolina, who was ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the respective meetings.
Over its last five games, Jennifer Averill's (20th season) team has posted a 4-1 mark with their latest win coming over Davidson. The Demon Deacons defeated the Lady Flames' other weekend opponent, 7-1, on Tuesday. Wake's other wins in its 4-1 stretch came against Delaware (7-1), Temple (4-1), and Princeton (3-2, OT).
Sophomore Kari Walkley has led the team's scoring charge this season, scoring eight goals while chipping in one assist for 17 points. Junior Lizzie Rae and freshman Anna Kozniuk have also jumped into double digits for point production this season, with Rae posting five goals and four assists (14 points) and Kozniuk tallying four goals and three assists (11 points).
Kaitlyn Ruhf has been the main goalkeeper for Wake Forest, accumulating over 918 minutes in the cage. The junior has blocked away 50 shots on the year and holds a goals-against average of 2.21.
After Friday's game, the Lady Flames will trek to Davidson for a 1 p.m. Sunday matchup. The contest with the Wildcats will be a preview of future NorPac opponents, as it was announced Wednesday that Liberty will join the NCAA single-sport conference next season.
Head coach Ginny Turner's team is 7-5 this season, while going 2-0 in NorPac action. The Wildcats aim to repeat as NorPac East Division regular-season champions, after going 5-1 in conference play in 2010.
Liberty and Davidson hold a pair of common opponents, each facing Robert Morris and Longwood. Davidson came out on top in each game, winning 3-0 over the Colonials (Sept. 24) and 2-1 over the Lancers (Oct. 1). Liberty was narrowly defeated, 1-0, by Robert Morris (Sept. 18), and fell to Longwood (Sept. 24) by a 4-0 margin. Liberty faced each team on the road, while Davidson served as host to both opponents.
Finley Amato, who earned 2010 NorPac East Player of the Year and Offensive Player of the year honors, has once again been leading the Wildcats' attack. The junior has racked up 21 points, scoring eight goals and contributing five assists. Christine Rua is the only other Wildcat in double digits for points, tallying six goals and a pair of assists (14 points).
Sarah Fisher is in her second year as the starting goalkeeper for Davidson. The junior has allowed 27 goals for a goals-against average of 2.46. She is credited with 60 saves and has blocked shots away at a .690 clip.
Before hosting Liberty on Sunday, Davidson is scheduled to travel to Radford for a 7 p.m. game, Friday. Radford served as the first opponent in Liberty's program history, with the Highlanders claiming a 3-1 win on Sept. 3.
Live stats will be available for both of the Lady Flames' matches this weekend. Links are available at LibertyFlames.com.