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Liberty Falls to Radford in Big South Semifinals

November 4, 2011
|  Charleston, S.C.
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Ariana Espinoza netted Liberty's lone goal in its semfinals matchup against Radford during the Big South Women's Soccer Championship.

The 2011 Liberty women's soccer season came to an end, Friday afternoon, as the No. 5 seed Lady Flames fell to No. 1 seed Radford in the semifinals of the Big South Women's Championship, 4-1, at Blackbaud Stadium.

With the loss, Liberty closes out its 2011 season with a 9-8-3 record overall and a 5-4-1 mark in conference play.

Sahar Aflaki led the Highlanders attack with three goals, followed by Mary Wiley who had one. Ariana Espinoza netted Liberty's lone goal with the assist by Maddie Boone.

Radford lit up the scoreboard for the first time during the ninth minute. After a shot by Rachel Conway was blocked by a Liberty defender, Aflaki picked up the loose ball and lofted a shot into the upper left corner for the early 1-0 lead. Aflaki's goal was her seventh of the season.

  Silvia Betancourt attempted to give Liberty the equalizer just before the 19th minute. Breaking away from a Radford defender on a through ball, Betancourt fired upon the Highlanders' net, only to see the shot sail wide, keeping Liberty scoreless.

Aflaki netted her second goal of the contest in the 22nd minute. After receiving a pass from Sydney Golden, Aflaki blasted a shot into the left side of the net to take two-goal lead.

Radford was not done scoring in the first half, earning its third goal in the 25th minute. Following a punt from Radford goalkeeper Che' Brown, forward Mary Wiley scooped up the ball and booted a shot from 25 yards into the upper right corner, giving the Highlanders a 3-0 lead.

Aflaki completed her hat trick in 31st minute, increasing Radford's advantage to 4-0. As a shot by Aflaki was deflected by goalkeeper Karen Blocker, but still went into the goal.

The Lady Flames got on the scoreboard just before halftime, scoring off a corner kick in the 45th minute. Espinoza headed the ball into the back of the net for her third goal of the year, off  the kick from Boone. The score resulted in a halftime score of 4-1. The assist from Boone was her fourth on the season.

In the first half, Radford outshot Liberty, 12-7. Corner kicks were even.

In the opening minutes of the second half, the Lady Flames tried to build upon their newfound momentum. During the 48th minute, Lauren Stell sent a shot toward the Radford net, but Brown was there to corral the attempt, preventing Liberty from chipping away at the deficit.

Later in the 65th minute, Casey Norris had a chance to give Liberty it second goal, but once again Brown was there to stop the shot.

Madison Short took Liberty's final shot in the 89th minute. Short's attempt resulted in Brown's 10th save, leading to the 4-1 final.

Liberty controlled possession for much of the second half, outshooting the Highlanders 13-7 in the period and 20-16 in the contest. The Lady Flames held the advantage in corner kicks, 5-4.

Brown played the entire 90 minutes in goal for the Highlanders, collecting 10 saves. Blocker also played the duration of the contest, finishing with six saves.

"Radford played well and did a great job of attacking from the beginning," Liberty head coach Jess Hain stated. "We did a great job of playing until the end and putting a goal in the back of the net, but unfortunately it wasn't good enough for the win today."