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Liberty Edged by Radford on Senior Night
|Freshman Geena Swentik netted her second goal of the season in Liberty's game against Big South leader Radford, Saturday night.|
A rally by the Lady Flames came up short, as the Radford Highlanders defeated Liberty, 3-2, Saturday evening on Senior Night at Osborne Stadium.
After falling behind 3-0, the host Lady Flames struck for two goals over a three minute span to close their gap. Midfielder Casey Norris' second goal of the year and
Geena Swentik's second goal of the year helped bring Liberty to within one score midway through the second half. However, visiting Radford was able to hold off the late charge by the Lady Flames to record the victory.
Liberty drops to 3-4-1 in the Big South Conference and 6-7-3 overall. Radford, the leader in the Big South standings, moves to 7-1 conference play and 12-4 overall.
The game opened with the two teams exchanging shots during the opening six minutes. Liberty senior forward Aimee Luurtsema lifted a shot, which was saved by Highlanders goalkeeper Che' Brown during the fifth minute of play. Radford answered with a header by midfielder Rachel Conway off a corner kick during the sixth minute, which Flames goalkeeper Karen Blocker scooped out of the air for a save.
The Highlanders got on the scoreboard during the 9th minute of the play. Defender Sydney Golden's free kick came loose in front of the Liberty net and Conway tapped it home for her third goal of the season, giving Radford a 1-0 advantage.
In the 23rd minute of play, Luurtsema headed a long pass from midfielder Silvia Betancourt towards the net, only to see Brown control it for a save.
After a Conway attempt was turned away by Blocker in the 31st minute, the Highlanders extended their advantage, scoring again off a free kick. Golden sent the free kick from 25 yards out on the left side of the field into the center of the 18-yard area, where it deflected off several defenders and came free to forward Sahar Aflaki at the top of left corner of the box. The forward pushed the ball into the far right corner of the net for her second goal of the year, upping Radford's lead to 2-0.
A shot by Luurtsema during the 37th minute went high and an attempt by Betancourt was wide in the 39th minute.
The half ended with Blocker making an easy save on a long attempt by Radford defender Stephanie Herb in the final minute.
The Highlanders outshot the Lady Flames, 9-4, and held the edge in corner kicks, 4-1, during the first half.
Radford opened the second half on the attack, having two shots blocked down in the box by Liberty defenders and a shot by Herb corralled by Blocker to end the Highlander
pressure during the 48th minute.
On its ensuing possession, Liberty was able to use some pinpoint passing to give forward Kelly Henion an open shot from the left side of the penalty area. However, Brown made a diving stop of the attempt to keep the host team off the scoreboard.
Radford added to its lead during the 54th minute. Forward Mary Wiley lofted a pass over several defenders into the middle of the 18-yard box for forward Julie Ruh'e. The Highlanders' leading scorer ran onto the ball and scored her sixth goal of the year, pushing the visitors' advantage to 3-0.
Liberty began its rally in the 65th minute. Senior midfielder Laura Nyholt lofted a corner kick across the box to the left side, where a free Norris headed the ball into the top of the net, making it, 3-1.
Three minutes later, the Lady Flames' charge continued. A corner kick by Maddie Boone made it through several defenders to the left side of the 18-yard box for Swentik. The forward ran onto the ball and ripped a shot into the upper right hand corner, cutting the Liberty deficit to 3-2.
The Lady Flames continued their pressure on the Radford net, controlling possession to get three shots off over the next five minutes. The first two shots of the sequence, a shot by Swentik during the 72nd minute and one by Stell during the 74th minute, forced diving saves by Brown.
After a header by Highlander Chelsea Hayes was stopped by Blocker during the 83rd minute, the Lady Flames tried to find the equalizer over the closing minutes. However, a shot by forward Lauren Stell in the 84th minute went wide and an attempt by Henion during the 85th minute sailed high over the goal, as Radford held on for the 3-2 win.
The visiting Highlanders outshot the Lady Flames, 15-12, and also held an 8-5 edge in corner kicks in the contest.
Blocker made seven saves on the evening in the Liberty net, while Brown turned aside five shots in the Radford net.
Before the game, seniors Betancourt, Nyholt, Luurtsema, Kendra Dalton, Brittney Johnson and Bekah Moye were all honored for their contributions to the Liberty women's soccer program.
Radford remains on the road, Tuesday, squaring off with VMI at 3 p.m.
The Lady Flames head to Presbyterian College on Thursday, to take on the Blue Hose at 7 p.m.