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Liberty Set to Face High Point in BSC Quarterfinals
Finishing the conference slate with a 5-4-1 record, the Liberty women's soccer team has been tabbed the No. 5 seed heading into this week's Big South Championship presented by Musco Sports Lighting. The tournament will be contested at Blackbaud Stadium in Charleston, S.C., Nov. 3-6.
The Lady Flames enter the tournament as the No. 5 seed for the second time in school history and the first since 2007, when Liberty was defeated in the quarterfinals by Winthrop, 3-2, in double overtime. Liberty matches up with No. 4 High Point in the quarterfinals, and the winning team will meet the winner of No. 1 Radford and No. 8 UNC Asheville on Friday.
How to Follow the Lady Flames
Live stats will be available on LibertyFlames.com, by clicking the appropriate link on the women's soccer schedule/results page. Live stats will be provided by the Charleston Southern media relations offices. A video stream will also be available on the Big South Network.
Series Against High Point
Liberty holds a 10-9-2 advantage over High Point in the all-time series. This season, the Panthers edged the Lady Flames at Vert Stadium, 1-0, on Oct. 11. Kelli Joline netted the game-winning goal, connecting on a penalty kick in the 37th minute.
The Lady Flames also hold a 2-1 advantage over the Panthers in Big South Championship matchups. Liberty's last tournament meeting with High Point occurred during the quarterfinals of the 2006 Big South Championship. Liberty went on to defeat the Panthers in double overtime, 3-2.
Liberty's All-Time Marks in Big South Championship
The Lady Flames are 14-7-5 all-time in the Big South Championship, capturing titles in 2000, 2001 and 2005. Liberty is currently tied with High Point for most tournament wins and is tied for second with Radford for championship wins with three titles.
For the second straight season, Liberty was eliminated from the championship on penalty kicks during the 2010 Big South Championship. After defeating Coastal Carolina in the quarterfinals 3-2, Liberty matched up with Gardner-Webb in the semifinals. Playing to a scoreless draw, the matchup was determined by penalty kicks, with the Runnin' Bulldogs advancing to the finals, 4-2.
The Lady Flames' most common opponents in the tournament have been Charleston Southern (2-1-1) and UNC Asheville (2-0-2). The Lady Flames have also played Radford (2-0), High Point (2-1), Coastal Carolina (2-0), Winthrop (0-1-1), Gardner-Webb (0-0-1) and former conference members UMBC (0-3), Elon (2-1), Howard (1-0), Towson (0-1) and Birmingham Southern (1-0).
Lady Flames and the Big South Championship
The Lady Flames captured their third Big South Championship by winning the 2005 Big South Women's Soccer Championship. By winning in the finals, Liberty also won its 11th tournament contest. Liberty's other titles came in 2000 and 2001. In 2006, the team won two games to extend its tournament win total to 13. Last season, the Lady Flames upped the total to 14 with a 3-2 victory over Coastal Carolina in the quarterfinals (Nov. 5, 2010).
With their appearance in 2006, the Lady Flames have played in five conference finals, posting a 3-1-1 record. Liberty made three straight trips to the Big South final from 1999 to 2001.
Liberty fell in its first appearance in the title game in 1999, 3-2, in overtime to Elon. The following year, the Lady Flames claimed their first championship with a 2-0 victory over Elon and then made it back-to-back titles with another 2-0 title game win over the Phoenix in 2001.
Liberty returned to the title game in 2005 and added its third trophy since 2000, with a 3-0 victory over UNC Asheville.
Head Coach Jessica Hain
Jessica Hain is in her fourth season as the head coach of the Lady Flames. Coming into the tournament, Hain has a career record of 28-36-11. In 2009 she earned Big South Coach of the Year honors, becoming the first coach in Big South history to take a last place team to first place the following season.
In Between the Posts
Karen Blocker has started all 18 contests in goal for the Lady Flames, playing 1683:23 minutes in the net this season. After missing the entire 2010 season due to injury, Blocker returned to the lineup this season, earning Big South Defensive Player of the Week Honors on Sept. 7. On Sept. 23, she recorded her 200th career save and is currently third all-time in the Liberty record books with 242 saves. Blocker also has 11 career shutouts, placing her second on Liberty's career shutouts list in front of former teammate Ashley Nyholt (2007-10).
A Look at the Lady Flames
Liberty enters Thursday's quarterfinals matchup with a 8-7-3 record overall and a 5-4-1 mark in conference play. The Lady Flames are coming off back-to-back wins, defeating Presbyterian College (2-0) and UNC Asheville (3-0). This past Saturday, Geena Swenitk netted two goals, while Aimee Luurtsema added one to help Liberty best the Bulldogs.
Three players lead Liberty with four goals on the season – Silvia Betancourt, Luurtsema and Swentik. Lauren Stell is pacing the Lady Flames in assists with four. Goalkeeper Karen Blocker has started all 18 contests in goal for the Lady Flames and holds a 1.39 goals-against average. The netminder also has 80 saves on the year (.755 save percentage).
Climbing the Ladder
After scoring a goal and adding an assist in Liberty's 3-0 win over UNC Asheville on Saturday, Aimee Luurtsema now has 20 career goals and 50 points during her time at Liberty. The Grandville, Mich., native is tied for third with former Liberty player Lauren Zealand (1999, 2001, 03-04) in both categories.
What to Watch For
With 23 career goals, midfielder Silvia Betancourt needs just two more to surpass Amy Oberlin (2005-08) for second all-time on Liberty's career goals list. The San Jose, Costa Rica native is also tied with Oberlin for second in points with 54.
On the Short List
In Liberty's 2-1 comeback victory over VMI on Oct. 20, Madison Short provided the game-winning assist to Kelly Henion, who finished on the play with 55 ticks left in the contest. The helper marks the 11th of Short's career, placing her second all-time in school history.
Henion Plays Hero
Down 1-0 against VMI on Oct. 20, Liberty netted two goals in the final seven minutes to take the contest 2-1 at Osborne Stadium. Following a goal by Lauren Stell in the 84th minute, Kelly Henion sealed the deal in the 90th minute to secure the win for Liberty. The game-winning goal marked Henion's third on the year.
Switching It Up
Junior Lauren Stell has split time between defense and attack this season, contributing on both ends. The Exton, Pa., native leads Liberty with four assists on the year and also has two goals, this season.
Finding the Net
This season, 11 different Lady Flames have scored at least one goal. Five Liberty players scored their first career goal in 2011 – Geena Swentik, Kelly Henion, Megan Warner, Emily Hoy and Helena Pereira.