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Quartet of Tallies Propels Lady Flames to Victory
The Liberty women's soccer team got back into the win column in a big way, Sunday at Osborne Stadium, defeating USC Upstate, 4-0. The Lady Flames' goal total was the team's most since head coach Jessica Hain's squad posted six goals against UNC Asheville on Oct. 27, 2010.
Liberty's 28 shots were also the most since the Lady Flames racked up 29 attempts in a 2-1 win over VMI on Oct. 20, 2011.
Four different Lady Flames found the back of the net against the Spartans – Crystal Elmers, Helena Pereira, Rebecca Smith and Geena Swentik. Freshman midfielder Brittany Aanderud led the Lady Flames with two assists, while redshirt junior forward Kelly Henion and freshman midfielder Hannah Myers also chipped in helpers.
Liberty's shutout gives goalkeeper Karen Blocker the 13th of her career. The Bowie, Md., native now needs two more to tie Natalie Mayer (2001-2004) for the program record (15).
With the win, the Lady Flames improve to 2-2 on the year. The Spartans fall to 1-3 in 2012.
Controlling the offensive tempo from the outset, Liberty picked up its first goal of the contest in the 11th minute. Breaking away from a Spartans defender after a through ball by Aanderud, Elmers was left all alone with goalkeeper Sarah Plantz standing in her way. The freshman maneuvered around the netminder and tapped the ball into the back of the net, putting Liberty ahead, 1-0. The Fenwick, Ontario native's goal was her second of the season, after having previously scored the lone goal in Liberty's season opener against Davidson on Aug. 17.
Later in the 18th minute, the Lady Flames managed to recreate the same play with different players. Following a through ball by Myers, Pereira was left with a one-on-one showdown with the goalkeeper. Much like her teammate Elmers, Pereira side stepped Plantz and tapped the ball into the back of the net, helping Liberty eventually take 2-0 lead into the locker room at halftime. The marker was Pereira's first of the season and her first since scoring a golden goal in Liberty's 2-1 overtime victory over No. 4 High Point in the quarterfinals of the 2011 Big South Championship.
Liberty outshot the Spartans in the first half, 12-3, while the visitors held a 2-1 advantage over the Lady Flames in corner kicks.
In the second half, Liberty continued to apply the offensive pressure. After nearly 30 minutes of scoreless action, the Lady Flames lit up the scoreboard in the 75th minute. Aanderud once again set up the play, sailing a crossing pass into the box to Henion. The forward tapped the ball to Smith, who placed it into the back of the net to make it 3-0, Liberty. Smith's tally was the first of her Liberty career.
The Lady Flames rounded out the scoring on the afternoon in the final minute. With the Liberty offense advancing toward the net, Swentik blasted a shot from the top of the key outside the 18-yard box. The shot soared past the Spartans defense and into the right corner of the net, giving Swentik her first goal of the season and fifth in her collegiate career.
Liberty outshot the Spartans in the contest, 28-5. Corner kicks were even at 2-2.
Blocker played the entire 90 minutes in between the pipes for Liberty, snatching two saves. Plantz also played in net the full contest for the Spartans, making nine saves.
Liberty heads to the nation's capital on Friday, squaring off with American. The matchup marks the second meeting all-time between the two squads. In the previous contest, which took place on Sept. 28, 1993, American bested the Lady Flames at Liberty Soccer Field, 8-2. Game time for the rematch 19 years in the making is slated for 4 p.m.